Raquel Azevedo de Silva:
Protein kinase signalling in the Moss Physcomitrella patens

Date: 14-03-2016    Supervisor: John Mundy

Adaptation to environmental cues trigger a plethora of intracellular pathways capable of maintaining homeostasis. Receptors in the plasma membrane and in the cytosol recognize extracellular or intracellular signals initiating defense against pathogens or stress-adaptation. MAPK cascade are one of the pathways involved in stress signalling, phosphorylating several downstream substrates in order to produce appropriate responses. We report here that P. patens has a receptor-like kinase CERK1 responsible for chitin perception which can rescue Atcerk1 mutant. Activation of PpCERK1 triggers the activation of the following MAPK module: MEKK1A/MEKK1B-MKK1A/MKK1C-MPK4A/MPK4B. In Arabidopsis, some of these modules were demonstrated to be activated during PTI but also during abiotic stress. However, PpMPK4a and PpMPK4b are involved in chitin-dependent defense responses but are not activated during abiotic stresses, such as salt or osmotic stress. Moreover, the PpMEKK1 homologs seem to be involved in ABA-dependent responses, such as, dehydration. Rescue of mekk1 knockouts phenotype when exogenous ABA is applied and downregulation of ABA biosynthesis genes suggests that these proteins function upstream or parallel of the ABA biosynthesis.

This thesis comprises a comprehensive introduction to plant immunity and the role of MAPKs in several regulatory processes, plant defense, abiotic stress, senescence and autophagy. The results are presented as one manuscript submitted to Plant Cell “An innate immunity pathway in the moss Physcomitrella patens and one draft manuscript summarizing our data regarding the phenotypic analysis of Ppmekk1 knockouts.