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Lessons in wood formation from Arabidopsis

secondary walls in stem and hypocotyl tissue. The double mutant plants were not able to remain upright and stems were easily bent and broken. This defective phenotype could be almost completely reversed by introducing into the double mutant a genomic fragment containing either the fully functional NST1 or NST3 gene. This shows that these genes have an overlapping or redundant function in promoting secondary wall thickening in woody tissue (e.g. stems). Further examination of gene expression in the mutant lines, and in plant lines engineered to overexpress NST1 and NST3, showed that these transcription factors regulate the expression of genes involved in biosynthesis of secondary walls. This work confirms and extends observations previously reported by Mitsuda et al. (2005. The NAC transcription factors NST1 and NST2 of Arabidopsis regulate secondary wall thickenings and are required for anther dehiscence. Plant Cell 17: 2993-3006) and by Zhong et al. (2006. SND1, a NAC Domain Transcription Factor, Is a Key Regulator of Secondary Wall Synthesis in Fibers of Arabidopsis. Plant Cell 18: 3158-3170). (In the study by Zhong et al. (2006), SND1 is the same protein referred to as NST3 in the current paper by Mitsuda et al.). Closely related genes (putative orthologs) to NST1 and NST3 are present in the poplar genome, suggesting that they might also function as key regulators of secondary wall formation (and therefore wood) in trees.

Secondary wall thickenings in plants are found not only in xylem tissue but also in seedpods and anthers (the pollen-bearing organs in the flower). It is the organization of the thickened walls in these tissues that leads to the splitting (dehiscence) of mature seedpods and anthers that releases seed and pollen, respectively, to the atmosphere. In the second paper, Zoe A. Wilson and coworkers at the University of Nottingham, U.K. (Yang et al., 2007) show that the transcription factor MYB26 regulates secondary wall thickening in anther
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Contact: Nancy Eckardt
neckardt@aspb.org
970-495-9918
American Society of Plant Biologists
1-Mar-2007


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