Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research
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Klaus Apel

Klaus Apel
Klaus Apel
Professor
Office/Lab: 305/306
kha24@cornell.edu
Office: 607-279-7734
Lab: 607-254-1304

Apel_Singl0x

Research Summary

Research Summary

One of the first reactions of plants under stress is the enhanced production of chemically distinct reactive oxygen species (ROS). A major difficulty in elucidating the biological activity of ROS during stress stems from the fact that not only one but several chemically distinct ROS are generated simultaneously, thus making it very difficult to link a particular stress response to a specific ROS. This problem has been alleviated by using the conditional flu mutant of Arabidopsis that allows to induce the production of only one ROS, singlet oxygen, within plastids in a non-invasive, controlled manner (Fig. 1). In the dark the flu mutant accumulates protochlorophyllide (Pchlide), a potent photosensitizer that upon illumination generates singlet oxygen. Several singlet oxygen-mediated stress responses have been distinguished during re-illumination of the flu mutant. Inactivation of nuclear genes encoding the two closely related plastid proteins Executer1 and Executer2 has been shown to be sufficient to abrogate these stress responses despite the ongoing release of singlet oxygen. By varying the length of the dark period, one can adjust the level of the photosensitizer Pchlide and define conditions that minimize the cytotoxicity of singlet oxygen and either endorse acclimation in flu plants exposed to a very short dark period as one extreme or promote a genetically controlled cell death response in plants shifted for a longer period to the dark as another extreme (Fig. 2). This activity of singlet oxygen assigns a new function to the chloroplast, namely that of a sensor of environmental changes that activates a broad range of stress responses, known to be activated also by abiotic and biotic stressors. Our work is aimed at dissecting the complexity of singlet oxygen signalling and understanding and eventually also modifying the genetic constraints that determine the adaptability of plants to environmental changes.

Figure 1 FLU-dependent control of light-dependent Chl biosynthesis. Inactivation of FLU impedes negative feedback control (A) and leads to the overaccumulation of excess Pchlide in etiolated flu seedlings that upon excitation with blue light emits a strong red fluorescence (B, DD). Upon light exposure Pchlide acts as a photosensitizer and triggers the release of 1O2 that results in the rapid bleaching of seedlings (B, DL). Under continuous light Pchlide is immediately reduced via POR to Chlide and does not reach critical levels that may evoke the production of 1O2 (B, LL).

Figure 2 Schematic diagram of 1O2-dependent signal transduction from the plastid to the nucleus that triggers stress responses ranging from acclimation to cell death. The quality of the response can be modulated by shifting flu plants for various lengths of time to the dark, by activating modulators (e.g. PRL1) or by inactivating EX1 and/or EX2.

Selected Publications

Selected Publications

View All Publications    |    All papers on PubMed

Kim, C. and Apel, K. 2013. 1O2-mediated and EXECUTER dependent retrograde plastid-to-nucleus signaling in norflurazon-treated seedlings of Arabidopsis thaliana. Mol Plant 0: Feb 5. [Epub ahead of print]

Simkova, K., Moreau, F., Pawlak, P., Vriet, C., Baruah, A., Alexandre, C., Hennig, L., Apel, K. and Laloi, C. 2012. Integration of stress-related and reactive oxygen species-mediated signals by Topoisomerase VI in Arabidopsis thaliana. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 109: 16360-16365

Tanz SK, Kilian J, Johnsson C, Apel K, Small I, Harter K, Wanke D, Pogson B, Albrecht V. 2012. The SCO2 protein disulphide isomerase is required for thylakoid biogenesis and interacts with LHCB1 chlorophyll a/b binding proteins which affects chlorophyll biosynthesis in Arabidopsis seedlings. Plant J 69: 743-754

Simkova, K., Kim, C., Gacek, K., Baruah, A., Laloi, C. and Apel, K. 2012. The chloroplast division mutant caa33 of Arabidopsis thaliana reveals the crucial impact of chloroplast homeostasis on stress acclimation and retrograde plastid-to-nucleus signaling. Plant J 69: 701-712

Paddock, T., Lima, D., Mason, M.E., Apel, K. and Armstrong, G.A. 2012. Arabidopsis light-dependent protochlorophyllide oxidoreductase A (PORA) is essential for normal plant growth and development. Plant Mol Biol 78: 447-460

Kim, C., Meskauskiene, R., Zhang, S., Lee, K.P., Lakshmanan Ashok, M., Blajecka, K., Herrfurth, C., Feussner, I. and Apel, K. 2012. Chloroplasts of Arabidopsis are the source and a primary target of a plant-specific programmed cell death signaling pathway. Plant Cell 24: 3026-3039

Kim, C. and Apel, K, . 2012. Arabidopsis light-dependent NADPH: protochlorophyllide oxidoreductase A (PORA) is essential for normal plant growth and development: an addendum. Plant Mol Biol 80: 237-240

Kauss, D., Bischof, S., Steiner, S., Apel, K. and Meskauskiene, R. 2012. FLU, a negative feedback regulator of tetrapyrrole biosynthesis, is physically linked to the final steps of the Mg++-branch of this pathway. FEBS Lett 586: 211-216

Saini, G., Meskauskiene, R., Pijacka, W., Roszak, P., Sjogren, L.L.E., Clarke, A.K., Straus , M. and Apel, K. 2011. 'happy on norflurazon' (hon) mutations implicate perturbance of plastid homeostasis with activating stress acclimatization and changing nuclear gene expression in norflurazon-treated seedlings. Plant J 65: 690-702

Baruah, A., Simkova, K., Apel, K. and Laloi, C. 2009. Arabidopsis mutants reveal multiple singlet oxygen signaling pathways involved in stress response and development. Plant Mol Biol 70: 547-563

Baruah, A., Simkova, K., Hincha, D.K., Apel, K. and Laloi, C. 2009. Modulation of O-1(2)-mediated retrograde signaling by the PLEIOTROPIC RESPONSE LOCUS 1 (PRL1) protein, a central integrator of stress and energy signaling. Plant J 60: 22-32

Coll, N.S., Danon, A., Meurer, J., Cho, W.K. and Apel, K. 2009. Characterization of soldat8, a Suppressor of Singlet Oxygen-Induced Cell Death in Arabidopsis Seedlings. Plant Cell Physiol 50: 707-718

Kim, C., Lee, K.P., Baruah, A., Nater, M., Gobel, C., Feussner, I. and Apel, K. 2009. O-1(2)-mediated retrograde signaling during late embryogenesis predetermines plastid differentiation in seedlings by recruiting abscisic acid. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 106: 9920-9924

Meskauskiene, R., Wursch, M., Laloi, C., Vidi, P.A., Coll, N.S., Kessler, F., Baruah, A., Kim, C. and Apel, K. 2009. A mutation in the Arabidopsis mTERF-related plastid protein SOLDAT10 activates retrograde signaling and suppresses 1O(2)-induced cell death. Plant J 60: 399-410

Kim, C., Meskauskiene, R., Apel, K. and Laloi, C. 2008. No single way to understand singlet oxygen signalling in plants. EMBO Rep. 9: 435-439

Laloi, C, Stachowiak, M., Pers-Kamczyc, E., Warzych, E., Murgia, I., and Apel, K. 2007. Cross-talk between singlet oxygen- and hydrogen peroxide-dependent signaling of stress responses in Arabidopsis thaliana. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 104: 672-7

Lee, K.P., Kim, C., Landgraf, F., Apel, K. 2007. EXECUTER1- and EXECUTER2-dependent transfer of stress-related signals from the plastid to the nucleus of Arabidopsis thaliana. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 104: 10270-5

Laloi, C., Przybyla, D., and Apel, K. 2006. A genetic approach towards elucidating the biological activity of different reactive oxygen species in Arabidopsis thaliana. J Exp Bot 57: 1719-24

Laloi, C., Apel, K. and Danon, A. 2004. Reactive oxygen signalling: the latest news. Curr. Opin. Plant Biol 7: 323-8

Wagner, D., Przybyla, D., op den Camp, R., Kim, C., Landgraf, F., Lee, K.P., W. 2004. The Genetic basis of singlet oxygen-induced stress responses of Arabidopsis thaliana. Science 306: 1183-5

op den Camp, R.G., Przybyla, D., Ochsenbein, C., Laloi, C., Kim, C., Danon, A., Wagner, D., Hideg, E., G. 2003. Rapid induction of distinct stress responses after the release of singlet oxygen in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell 15: 2320-2332

Features

Features

How do plants respond to environmental stress?

Plants can endure extreme environmental stress (heat, drought, cold or intense light) through genetically controlled defenses, such as wilting, loss of leaves or stunted growth, but these very defenses can also reduce yields, among other effects. As a result, one effect of global warming could be reduced food production just when the world’s population is burgeoning. Understanding how plants sense and respond to stress at the genetic level is the ultimate objective of Klaus Apel’s laboratory at BTI. His findings could enable scientists to mitigate the negative results of stress, such as yield loss, or fine tune a plant’s ability to survive climate change. It turns out that chloroplasts — the tiny organs that contain chlorophyll and carry out photosynthesis — play an important role in a plant’s ability to sense environmental stress. Conditions such as drought, heat, cold and intense light interfere with the normal photosynthetic process in the chloroplasts, which leads to over-production of sometimes toxic forms of oxygen, called reactive oxygen species (ROS). High levels of ROS were previously considered detrimental to the cell. However, recent work with an Arabidopsis mutant by Apel and his research group indicates that the release of one ROS, called singlet oxygen, in the chloroplast actually triggers a variety of positive stress adaptation responses in the plant. These responses include slowed plant growth, cell death, and the activation of a broad range of defense genes, which normally are turned on only in the presence of pathogens. In further work, Apel’s group proved that certain genetic mutations in Arabidopsis eliminate the plant’s stress responses without interfering with the release of singlet oxygen. It appears these mutations prevent the plant from sensing the presence of singlet oxygen, which, in turn, prevents symptoms of stress. Apel’s group has identified these mutated genes, which is a first and crucial step toward understanding the genetic basis of the stress response in plants. The results of Apel’s work could lead to plants that cope better with the enviromental stress of global warming. Ultimately, such a discovery could help increase food supplies or predict a plant’s susceptibility to environmental changes.

Lab Members

Lab Members

Xia Xu
Xia Xu
Research Specialist
Office/Lab: 311/306
xx79@cornell.edu
Office:
Lab: 607 254 1304
Liangsheng Wang
Liangsheng Wang
Postdoc
Office/Lab: 311/306
lw349@cornell.edu
Office:
Lab: 607 254 1304
Chanhong Kim
Chanhong Kim
Research Associate
Office/Lab: 309/306
ck438@cornell.edu
Office:
Lab: 607-254-1304
Ming Yuan
Ming Yuan
Visiting Scholar
Office/Lab: 405/310
yuanmingsicau@yahoo.com.cn
Office:
Lab: 607-220-9491

PGRP

Plant Genome Research Program

Research ProjectEnvironmental stress response in plants

Participating Interns

2010 – Interns
2009 – Interns