Seed size plays a key role in the yield, quality and profitability of oilseed rape (Brassica napus), with ancillary effects on the early stages of crop establishment through its contribution to seedling vigour. In this project we will test the hypothesis that specific mechanisms that have been found to regulate seed size in the Brassicaceae reference species Arabidopsis are able to provide a route to significant increases in seed size in the related Brassica crop species. We are able to capitalise on a unique combination of recent findings in Arabidopsis, together with access to genetic and genomic tools for comparative analysis in Brassica. In particular, we will determine which specific developmental mechanisms contribute to existing natural variation within the Brassica genepool, and account for the observed variation in seed size. We will then test the hypothesis that Brassica orthologues of specific candidate genes that are up-regulated in 'large' seeds of Arabidopsis and are either not up-regulated or are down-regulated in 'small' seeds are also responsible for seed size variation in Brassica. The information and insights we obtain will be available for use in developing gene-specific molecular markers to screen allelic diversity within Brassica genepools. This will facilitate identification of valuable alleles for exploitation in breeding programmes aimed at boosting seed size and yield.
The specific objectives are to:
1. Identify developmental mechanisms that control final seed size in Brassica
2. Assign known variation in Brassica seed size to specific mechanisms
3. Test the hypothesis that early endosperm proliferation due to paternal excess can contribute to significant increases in Brassica seed size
4. Test the hypothesis that gene(s)/alleles on specific chromosomes of the oilseed rape C genome contribute to variation in seed size.
5. Test the ability of candidate genes to modulate seed size in Brassica
Molecular biology of embryo development and germination
For seed development to proceed the expression of a large number of genes is co-ordinately controlled in response to an array of developmental signals. These signals control embryogenesis, embryo maturation and germination and the transition from one phase of development to another. Of particular interest is the transition from the embryo maturation phase to the germination phase, and the separation of embryogenic and vegetative development.
Our objective is to identify loci essential for germination, which would potentially be involved in the regulation of dormancy, desiccation tolerance, the initiation of vegetative development, and the mobilisation of energy reserves.
To this end we have screened for germination mutants in a population of Arabidopsis seeds subjected to fast neutron bombardment. Eight mutant lines with a reduced germination potential were selected for further study. One line, mutated at the locus we have called COMATOSE (CTS), has been partially characterised. Genetic analysis of CTS indicates that the phenotype is only expressed in the embryo (Development 127: 3769-3767 (2000)).
Molecular cell biology of plant development
Our objective is:
a) To identify new loci in Arabidopsis that play a role in the cellular development and specification of cell fate, with emphasis on embryogenesis and meristem development.
b) To understand signalling cues that establish developmental patterns.
Plant development depends on asymmetric cell division. The final form of plants is due to different patterns of cell division and cell expansion. The control of plant development is determined both by cell lineage and positional information from individual cells. The basic features of a plantĺs body plan are established during embryogenesis. Embryo and seed development are vital developmental processes, but very few transcription factors that regulate these stages are known. The use of targeted gene expression, enhancer trap lines and marking developmental stages during embryogenesis will help identify new candidate genes that play a major role in embryo, seed and meristem development. These studies are designed to identifiy genes or regulators that are expressed at a particular developmental stage and facilitate elucidation of the function of these regulators.
Genomic and epigenetic regulation of Brassica oilseed traits
Brassica oilseed rape is the primary renewable vegetable oil grown in N. Europe and the main break crop in the cereal rotation, grown on increasing acreage in the UK. The variety of food and non-food end uses require continuity of supply, with consistent high yield and predictable seed composition. These need to be achieved with reduced levels of inputs and in variable growing environments.
The project integrates several approaches to develop an understanding of the genes and mechanisms underlying regulation of key traits affecting oilseed yield and composition.
1. Using comparative genomics and quantitative genetics to resolve loci affecting seed development and associated traits
2. Establishing how the rate of seed development affects harvestable seed size and quality
3. Determining how epigenetic processes affect plant development in different environments
Regulation of plant phospholipid biosynthsis
Phospholipids are essential for the construction of eukaryotic cell membranes, which play a fundamental role in compartmentalising the biochemistry of life. The quantity and composition of phospholipids are tightly regulated during growth and development, and in response to environmental change, so that membranes always maintain their structure and function. Research in mammals and yeast has uncovered elegant metabolite signalling mechanisms, both transcriptional and post-translational, that allow the cell to sense changes in key lipid intermediates and adjust phospholipid synthesis (and turnover) accordingly. Analogous mechanisms are also likely to exist in plants but surprisingly they have not been elucidated. We have recently isolated an Arabidopsis thaliana double mutant in two phosphatidate phosphatases (pah1 pah2) that produces approximately twice as much phospholipid in its leaves as wild type plants. The objective of this work is to use the pah1 pah2 mutant (and corresponding genes) to discover how phospholipid biosynthesis is regulated in Arabidopsis and to investigate how it is coordinated with cell cycle progression, which requires membrane biogenesis.
Stoute AI, Varenko V, King GJ, Scott RJ & Kurup S. (2012) Parental genome imbalance in Brassica oleracea causes asymmetric triploid block. Plant Journal, doi: 10.1111/j.1365 313X.2012.05015.x.
Geleta M, Heneen WK, Stoute AI, Muttucumaru N, Scott RJ, King GJ, Kurup S & Bryngelsson T (2012) Assigning Brassica microsatellite markers to the nine C-genome chromosomes using Brassica rapa var. trilocularis – B. oleracea var. alboglabra monosomic alien addition lines. Theoretical and Applied Genetics, doi: 10.1007/s00122-012-1845-3
Rios, JJ, Lochlainn SO, Devonshire J, Graham N, Hammond J, King GJ, White P, Kurup S & Broadley M (2012) Distribution of calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg) in the leaves of Brassica rapa under varying exogenous Ca and Mg supply. Annals of Botany, doi: 10.1093/aob/mcs029.
Pankaj, Muttucumaru N, Powers SJ, Gaur HS, Kurup S & Curtis RHC (2012). Differential defence response due to jasmonate seed treatment in cowpea and tomato against root-knot and potato cyst nematodes. Nematology, In press.
Heneen W, Geleta M, Brismar K, Xiong Z, Pires C, Hasterok R, Stoute AI, Scott RJ, King GJ & Kurup S (2012) Seed colour control, chromosome homoeology, and linkage groups revealed in Brassica rapa var. trilocularis - B. oleracea var. alboglabra monosomic alien addition lines. Accepted, Annals of Botany.
Lochlainn SO, Amoah S, Graham NS, Alamer K, Rios JJ, Kurup S, Stoute A, Hammond JP, Ostergaard L, King GJ, White PJ & Broadley MR (2011) High Resolution Melt (HRM) analysis is an efficient tool to genotype EMS mutants in complex crop genomes. Plant Methods, 7: 43.
Wang J, Wang CN, Long Y, Hopkins C, Kurup S, Liu KD, King GJ & Meng JL (2011) Universal endogenous gene controls for bisulphate conversion in analysis of plant DNA methylation. Plant Methods , 7: 39
King, G.J., Amoah, S., and Kurup, S. (2010). Exploring and exploiting epigenetic variation in crops. Genome 53(11): 856–868 (2010) | doi: 10.1139/G10-059.
Curtis, R., Buttle, D., Behnke, J, Duce, I., Shewry, P., Kurup, S. and Kerry, B. (2008). Nematicidal effects of cysteine proteinases and methods of use thereof to treat nematode infection. International Patent WO 2008/087555A2.
Freeman J, Kurup S, Huttly AK & Shewry PR (2008) Using cell lineage tagging to decipher early differentiation and development in wheat endosperm. Seminaires Mediterraneens 81: 453-455.
MacRobbie, E.A.C., Kurup, S., Blatt, M.R., Gay, R. and Sokolovski, S. (2007) Involvement of actin in the regulation of vacuolar ion release in guard cells. New Phytologist 175: 630-640.
Runions, J., Hawes, C. and Kurup, S. (2007). Fluorescent protein fusions for protein localization in plants. Protein Targeting Protocols, 2nd edition (ed. Van der Geizen) pps. 239-256, Humana Press, USA.
Moore, I., Samlova, M. and Kurup, S. (2006). Transactivated and chemically-inducible gene expression in plants. The Plant Journal, 45: 651-683.
Kurup, S., Runions, J., Kohler, U., Laplaze, L., Hodge, S. and Haseloff, J. (2005). Marking cell lineages in living tissues. The Plant Journal. 42: 444-453.
Haseloff, J., Bauch, M., Hodge, S., Laplaze, L., Kurup, S. and Runions, C.J. (2005) A modified transcription factor for targeted gene expression in plants. US Patent Pub. No. US2005/0132432 A1.
Footitt S, Slocombe SP, Larner V, KurupS, Wu Y, Larson T, Graham I, Baker A & Holdsworth MJ (2002) Control of germination and lipid mobilization by COMATOSE, the Arabidopsis homologue of human ALDP. The EMBO Journal 21: 2912-2922.
Holdsworth, M.J.,Lenton, J., Flintham, J.,Gale, M., Kurup, S., McKibbin, R., Bailey, P., Larner, V. and Russell, L. (2001) Genetic control mechanisms regulating the initiation of germination. J Plant Physiology,158: 439-445.
Russell, L., Larner, V., Kurup, S.,Bougourd, S. and Holdsworth, M.J. (2000) The ArabidopsisCOMATOSE locus regulates germination potential. Development, 127: 3759-3767.
Rohde, A., Kurup, S. and Holdsworth, M.J. (2000) ABI3 emerges from the seed. Correspondence Trends in Plant Sciences, 5: 418-419.
Kurup, S., Jones, H.D. and Holdsworth, M.J. (2000) Interactions of the developmental regulator ABI3 with proteins identified from developing Arabidopsis seeds. The Plant Journal, 21 (2): 143-156.
Jones, H.D., Kurup, S., Peters, N. and Holdsworth, M.J. (2000) Cloning and characterisation of proteins that interact with the Avena fatua homologue of the maize transcriptional regulator VP1. The Plant Journal, 21 (2): 133-142.
Holdsworth, M., Kurup, S. and McKibbin, R. (1999) Molecular and genetic mechanisms regulating the transition from embryo development to germination. Trends in Plant Science, 4: 275-280.
Kurup, S., Larner, V., Russell, L. and Holdsworth, M.J. (1999) Analysis of the Transition from Embryo Maturation to Germination in Arabidopsis. 8th. International Symposium on Pre-Harvest Sprouting in Cereals, (Ed. D Weipert), Association of Cereal Research, Detmold , Germany, pp 103-112.
Kurup, S., Ride, J.P.,Jordan, N.D., Fletcher, E.G., Franklin-Tong, V.E. and Franklin, F.C.H.(1998) Identification and cloning of related self-incompatibility S-genes in Papaver rhoeas and Papaver nudicaule. Sex. Plant Reprod., 4: 192-198.
Walker, E.A., Ride, J.P., Kurup, S., Franklin-Tong, V.E., Lawrence, M.J. and Franklin, F.C.H.(1996). Molecular analysis of two functional homologues of the S3 allele of the Papaver rhoeas incompatibility gene isolated from different populations. Plant Mol. Biol., 30: 983-994
Conference Presentations & Posters (recent)
Kurup S, Stoute AI, Varenko V, King GJ & Scott RJ (2012) Parental genome imbalance in Brassica oleraceacauses asymmetric triploid block. 23rd International Conference on Arabidopsis Research 3-7 July, Vienna.
Kelly A, Craddock C, Adams A, Belfield E, Harberd N Welham S, Kurup, S, & Eastmond PJ (2012) Studying the genetic control of seed oil content and composition using the Arabidopsis 'MAGIC' population. 23rd International Conference on Arabidopsis Research 3-7 July, Vienna.
Mendes A, Kelly AA, Shaw E, Kurup S & Eastmond PJ (2012). Leafy Cotyledon1 regulates ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid content of Arabidopsis seed oil by [lec1-like: nf-yc2: bzip67]-directed transactivation of Fatty acid desaturase3. 23rd International Conference on Arabidopsis Research 3-7 July, Vienna.
Rios JJ, Lochlainn SÓ, Devonshire J, Hammond JP, Graham NS, King GJ, Kurup S, White PJ & Broadley MR (2011) Calcium (Ca) distribution in leaves of Brassica rapaat low and high Ca-supply, determined by energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) with Cryo-Scanning electron microscope (CryoSEM) XIX Reunión de la Sociedad Española de Fisiología Vegetal. XII Congreso Hispano-Luso de Fisiología Vegetal. Spain.
Rios JJ, Lochlainn SÓ, Devonshire J, Hammond JP, Graham NS, King GJ, Kurup S, White PJ & Broadley MR (2011) Characterising calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg) distribution in leaves of Brassica rapa, using energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) with cryo-scanning electron microscope (CryoSEM).7 International Symposium. Structure and Function Root, Slovakia.
Stoute, A., Varenko, V., Muttucumaru, N., Scott, R. J., Kurup, S., and King, G.J. (2010). Mechanisms underlying seed size variation in Brassicaceae. XXI International Congress on Sexual Plant Reproduction. 2-6 August, Bristol, UK.
Stoute A, Varenko V, Scott R, Kurup S, and King G J. (2010).'Modulating Seed Size in Brassica', UK-BRC Annual Meeting. 7th May. RRES.
King GJ, Amoah S, Hopkins C, Stoute A, Kurup S. (2010). Exploring and Generating Epigenetic Variation In Brassica. 17th Crucifer Genetics Workshop, , 5-9th September, Saskatoon. Canada.
Muttucumaru, N., Kurup, S., Scott, R, and King, G J (2009).'Modulating Seed Size in Brassica', UK-BRC Annual Meeting. JIC. May 23rd 2009.
Usher, S., Kurup, S., Barker, G., Verrier, P., Powers, S., and King, G.J. (2008). 'Nucleosome positioning in Arabidopsis'. Rank Prize meeting on Epigenetics, Lake District, UK, April 2009.
Kurup, S. 'Modulating Seed Size in Brassica', UK-BRC Annual Meeting. HRI-Wellesbourne. May 21st 2008.
Kurup, S., Muttucumaru, N., Scott., and King, G.J. (2008). 'Mechamisms controlling seed size in Brassicaceae'. 19th International Conference on Arabidopsis Research, 23-27th July 2008, Montreal, Canada.
Usher, S., Kurup, S., Barker, G and King, G.J. (2008). 'Nucleosome positioning in Arabidopsis'. 19th International Conference on Arabidopsis Research, 23-27th July 2008, Montreal, Canada.
Kurup, S. 'Comparative development of Brassica embryos'. (2007) UK-BRC Annual Meeting. Rotahmsted Research, May 23rd 2007.
French, A., Kurup, S., Runions, J., Bennett, M and Pridmore, T. (2007) Tracking multiple fluorescence marked features in time-series confocal image. Biology in Motion Conference, Evian, France, 11-14th October, 2007.
Kurup, S. Marking cell lineages in living tissues´┐Ż. Applications for Fluorescence Microscopy, Leica Plant Symposia, Rothamsted Research, UK. 1st April, 2005.
Kurup, S. Decoding gene expression and plant cell fate´┐Ż. Speaker at NRC-Plant Biotechnology Institute, Saskatoon, Canada. 11th May 2005.
Haseloff, J. et al. '3D visualisation and modelling of meristem development.' Plant Frontier meeting, Sheffield, UK. 21st-23rd March 2005.
Freeman, J., Kurup, S. and Shewry, P.R. Using cell lineage tagging to decipher early differentiation and development in wheat endosperms. 2nd UK Small Grains Cereals Workshop, 9-11th March 2005, Scottish Crop Research Institute, Dundee, UK.
Freeman, J., Kurup, S. and Shewry, P.R. Using cell lineage tagging to decipher early differentiation and development in wheat endosperms.7th International Wheat Conference, 27Nov- 2nd Dec 2005, Mar del Plata, Argentina.
› Member of GARNet committee: Elected Member of the GARNet (Genomic Arabidopsis Network) Advisory Committee
› Speaker: UK BRC Annual Meeting- HRI Wellesborne
› PhD co-supervisor: PhD Supervision - Co-supervision with Rosanne Curis of Sam Gorny
› PhD co-supervisor: PhD Supervision - Co-supervision with Graham King of Sarah Usher
› Speaker: Invited Speaker, NRC-Plant Biotechnology Institute
› Invited Speaker: Applicatiosn for Fluorescence Microscopy
› PhD co-supervisor: PhD Supervision - Co-supervisor with Dr Huw Jones of Julia Goodwin
› Gold Medal: Gold Medal for being 1st in University for Master&
› Gold medal: Gold medal for being 1st in University for BSc cou
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