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Mailing Address:
The Robert H. Smith Institute of
Plant Sciences and Genetics
in Agriculture
POB 12, Rehovot 76100, Israel

Administrator: Neomi Maimon 
Tel: 972-8-948-9251,
Fax: 972-8-948-9899,
E-mail: neomim@savion.huji.ac.il

Director: Prof. David Weiss
Tel: 972-8-948-9436
Fax: 972-8-948-9899
E-mail: david.weiss@mail.huji.ac.il

 

Publications

2020
Gadri, Y. ; Eshed Williams, L. ; Peleg, Z. Tradeoffs between yield components promote crop stability in sesame. Food Security under Climate Change 2020, 295, 110105. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Sesame is an important oil-crop worldwide. Complex tradeoffs between various yield components significantly affect the outcome yield. Our aims were to characterize the effect of genotype, environment and management, and their interactions, on yield components. Wild-type line, bearing a bicarpellate-capsule and three capsules per leaf axil, and its derived mutant-line, featuring one tetracarpellate-capsule per leaf axil, were analyzed under two irrigation regimes and three sowing-stands. Dissection of flower meristems and capsules showed larger placenta size and final capsule diameter in the mutant-line. Allelic segregation of F2 population revealed that the number of carpels per capsule demonstrates monogenic inheritance, whereas the number of capsules per leaf axil is a polygenic trait. A significant effect of genotype, irrigation and stand was observed on most yield components. While wild-type had more capsules per plant, the mutant-line compensated by increased seed number per capsule and consequently accumulated the same number of seeds per plant. Under either high intra-row or inter-row density, the branches number was reduced; however, the outcome yield was compensated by number of plants per area. While some yield components showed phenotypic-plasticity (branching), other traits were genetically stable (number of capsules per leaf axil and number of carpels per capsule). Our result shed-light on tradeoffs between yield components and on their underlying mechanisms.
2019
Gadri, Y. ; Eshed Williams, L. ; Peleg, Z. Tradeoffs between yield components promote crop stability in sesame. Plant Science 2019. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Sesame is an important oil-crop worldwide. Complex tradeoffs between various yield components significantly affect the outcome yield. Our aims were to characterize the effect of genotype, environment and management, and their interactions, on yield components. Wild-type line, bearing a bicarpellate-capsule and three capsules per leaf axil, and its derived mutant-line, featuring one tetracarpellate-capsule per leaf axil, were analyzed under two irrigation regimes and three sowing-stands. Dissection of flower meristems and capsules showed larger placenta size and final capsule diameter in the mutant-line. Allelic segregation of F 2 population revealed that the number of carpels per capsule demonstrates monogenic inheritance, whereas the number of capsules per leaf axil is a polygenic trait. A significant effect of genotype, irrigation and stand was observed on most yield components. While wild-type had more capsules per plant, the mutant-line compensated by increased seed number per capsule and consequently accumulated the same number of seeds per plant. Under either high intra-row or inter-row density, the branches number was reduced; however, the outcome yield was compensated by number of plants per area. While some yield components showed phenotypic-plasticity (branching), other traits were genetically stable (number of capsules per leaf axil and number of carpels per capsule). Our result shed-light on tradeoffs between yield components and on their underlying mechanisms. © 2019 Elsevier B.V.
2017
Negin, B. ; Shemer, O. ; Sorek, Y. ; Eshed Williams, L. Shoot stem cell specification in roots by the WUSCHEL transcription factor. PLOS ONE 2017, 12, 1-11. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The WUSCHEL homeobox transcription factor is required to specify stem-cell identity at the shoot apical meristem and its ectopic expression is sufficient to induce de novo shoot meristem formation. Yet, the manner by which WUS promotes stem-cell fate is not yet fully understood. In the present research we address this question by inducing WUS function outside of its domain. We show that activation of WUS function in the root inhibits the responses to exogenous auxin and suppresses the initiation and growth of lateral roots. Using time lapse movies to follow the cell-cycle marker CYCB1;1::GFP, we also show that activation of WUS function suppresses cell division and cell elongation. In addition, activation of WUS represses the auxin-induced expression of the PLETHORA1 root identity gene and promotes shoot fate. Shoot apical meristem formation requires a high cytokinin-to-auxin ratio. Our findings provide evidence for the manner by which WUS specifies stem-cell identity: by affecting auxin responses, by reducing the cell mitotic activity and by repressing other developmental pathways. At the meristem, the stem-cells which are characterized by low division rate are surrounded by the highly proliferative meristematic cells. Our results also provide a model for WUS establishing the differential mitotic rates between two cell populations at the minute structure of the meristem.
2016
Mandel, T. ; Candela, H. ; Landau, U. ; Asis, L. ; Zelinger, E. ; Carles, C. C. ; Eshed Williams, L. Differential regulation of meristem size, morphology and organization by the ERECTA, CLAVATA and class III HD-ZIP pathways. Development 2016, 143, 1612. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The shoot apical meristem (SAM) of angiosperm plants is a small, highly organized structure that gives rise to all above-ground organs. The SAM is divided into three functional domains: the central zone (CZ) at the SAM tip harbors the self-renewing pluripotent stem cells and the organizing center, providing daughter cells that are continuously displaced into the interior rib zone (RZ) or the surrounding peripheral zone (PZ), from which organ primordia are initiated. Despite the constant flow of cells from the CZ into the RZ or PZ, and cell recruitment for primordium formation, a stable balance is maintained between the distinct cell populations in the SAM. Here we combined an in-depth phenotypic analysis with a comparative RNA-Seq approach to characterize meristems from selected combinations of clavata3 (clv3), jabba-1D (jba-1D) and erecta (er) mutants of Arabidopsis thaliana. We demonstrate that CLV3 restricts meristem expansion along the apical-basal axis, whereas class III HD-ZIP and ER pathways restrict meristem expansion laterally, but in distinct and possibly perpendicular orientations. Our k-means analysis reveals that clv3, jba-1D/+ and er lead to meristem enlargement by affecting different aspects of meristem function; for example, clv3 displays an increase in the stem cell population, whereas jba-1D/+ er exhibits an increase in mitotic activity and in the meristematic cell population. Our analyses demonstrate that a combined genetic and mRNA-Seq comparative approach provides a precise and sensitive method to identify cell type-specific transcriptomes in a small structure, such as the SAM.
2015
Landau, U. ; Asis, L. ; Eshed Williams, L. The ERECTA, CLAVATA and class III HD-ZIP Pathways Display Synergistic Interactions in Regulating Floral Meristem Activities. PLoS One 2015, 10, e0125408.Abstract
In angiosperms, the production of flowers marks the beginning of the reproductive phase. At the emergence of flower primordia on the flanks of the inflorescence meristem, the WUSCHEL (WUS) gene, which encodes a homeodomain transcription factor starts to be expressed and establishes de novo stem cell population, founder of the floral meristem (FM). Similarly to the shoot apical meristem a precise spatial and temporal expression pattern of WUS is required and maintained through strict regulation by multiple regulatory inputs to maintain stem cell homeostasis. However, following the formation of a genetically determined fixed number of floral organs, this homeostasis is shifted towards organogenesis and the FM is terminated. In here we performed a genetic study to test how a reduction in ERECTA, CLAVATA and class III HD-ZIP pathways affects floral meristem activity and flower development. We revealed strong synergistic phenotypes of extra flower number, supernumerary whorls, total loss of determinacy and extreme enlargement of the meristem as compared to any double mutant combination indicating that the three pathways, CLV3, ER and HD-ZIPIII distinctively regulate meristem activity and that they act in parallel. Our findings yield several new insights into stem cell-driven development. We demonstrate the crucial requirement for coupling floral meristem termination with carpel formation to ensure successful reproduction in plants. We also show how regulation of meristem size and alternation in spatial structure of the meristem serve as a mechanism to determine flower organogenesis. We propose that the loss of FM determinacy due to the reduction in CLV3, ER and HD-ZIPIII activity is genetically separable from the AGAMOUS core mechanism of meristem termination.
Shemer, O. ; Landau, U. ; Candela, H. ; Zemach, A. ; Eshed Williams, L. Competency for shoot regeneration from Arabidopsis root explants is regulated by DNA methylation. Plant Sci 2015, 238, 251-61.Abstract
Plants exhibit high capacity to regenerate in three alternative pathways: tissue repair, somatic embryogenesis and de novo organogenesis. For most plants, de novo organ initiation can be easily achieved in tissue culture by exposing explants to auxin and/or cytokinin, yet the competence to regenerate varies among species and within tissues from the same plant. In Arabidopsis, root explants incubated directly on cytokinin-rich shoot inducing medium (SIM-direct), are incapable of regenerating shoots, and a pre-incubation step on auxin-rich callus inducing medium (CIM) is required to acquire competency to regenerate on the SIM. However the mechanism underlying competency acquisition still remains elusive. Here we show that the chromomethylase 3 (cmt3) mutant which exhibits significant reduction in CHG methylation, shows high capacity to regenerate on SIM-direct and that regeneration occurs via direct organogenesis. In WT, WUSCHEL (WUS) promoter, an essential gene for shoot formation, is highly methylated, and its expression on SIM requires pre-incubation on CIM. However, in cmt3, WUS expression induced by SIM-direct. We propose that pre-incubation on CIM is required for the re-activation of cell division. Following the transfer of roots to SIM, the intensive cell division activity continues, and in the presence of cytokinin leads to a dilution in DNA methylation that allows certain genes required for shoot regeneration to respond to SIM, thereby advancing shoot formation.