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PLICO Report Summary

Project ID: 655366
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.3.2.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - PLICO (Plant lipidome remodelling during cold acclimation)

Reporting period: 2016-01-15 to 2018-01-14

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Freezing or extremely low temperature constitutes a key factor influencing plant growth, development and crop productivity. Since plants lack systems to maintain temperature homeostasis, they have evolved a mechanism to enhance tolerance to freezing (cold acclimation) that involves an array of physiological and biochemical modifications. A key aspect of the cold acclimation process is the biosynthesis and delivery mechanisms of the newly synthesized lipid species towards the appropriate subcellular membranes. Previous studies in Prof Botella´ s lab (host research group) have shown that the Arabidopsis AtSYT1 (Synaptotagmin 1) protein is an ER-PM (endoplasmic reticulum – plasma membrane) tether component essential for plasma membrane stability (Perez-Sancho et al. (2015) Plant Physiol. 168, 132–143). AtSYT1 belongs to a five-member family in Arabidopsis and AtSYT3 is also a phospholipid binding member of this family. Later studies have also shown that AtSYT1 and their homolog protein AtSYT3 have a role in cold-acclimated freezing tolerance. The research objective of this Marie Curie fellowship was to determine the role that AtSYT1 and AtSYT3 have on lipid homeostasis related to cold acclimation and freezing tolerance at the cellular level, using a combination of mutant analysis, cellular biology, lipidomics and biochemical approaches. Research into the response of the plant lipidome during periods of cold stress is a relatively recent area of work. Thus, this project´s findings could have future applications since freezing temperatures are limiting the geographical locations for growing crop plants and periodically account for significant losses in plant productivity in Europe.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The research objective of this fellowship was to determine the role that AtSYT1 (Arabidopsis Synaptotagmin 1) and AtSYT3 (Arabidopsis Synaptotagmin 3) have on lipid homeostasis related to cold acclimation and freezing tolerance at the cellular level in Arabidopsis thaliana plants. Scientifically, this project has reached the proposed objectives, being the main findings:

-The identification of the role of that AtSYT1 and AtSYT3 have in freezing tolerance and non-vesicular phospholipid transfer
-The identification of specific lipids interacting with AtSYT3 in vitro and in vivo
-The identification of AtSYT1 interactors related with its functional role
-The characterisation of interaction of AtSYT1 with candidate ER-PM tethers

Additionally, this project has also been very active at communication, dissemination and public engagement. The researcher has participated in two international scientific conferences, one international EMBO course and she has presented this project to the general public and secondary school students in several occasions every year.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

PLICO project have had a major impact on the scientific understanding of the roles of AtSYT1 and AtSYT3 in freezing tolerance and cold acclimation. In plants, the mechanism of action both in sensing low temperature and altering transcription and lipid turnover is not well-known yet and further research must focus on the specific role of proteins (including transcription factors) involved in lipid homeostasis during cold stress.

We are just finalizing the first manuscript to be submitted in a couple of months. Because of the innovative aspects of these results, it is expected to publish these findings in one of the top scientific journals. A second manuscript is also in preparation and it is also going to be submitted in a high-impact scientific journal (peer-review, open-access).

Additionally, we have initiated several international collaborations. To be outlined, it is the strong collaboration with one of the world’s leading research groups in Plant Lipids at Rothamsted Research (UK). This project has definitely stimulated collaborative efforts that will include common grant applications in a near future.

Finally, this fellowship has broadened the researcher´s knowledge in acquiring deep expertise in confocal microscopy, protein-interaction techniques and in lipid-protein interactions. Additionally, it has allowed the transition of the researcher to senior position at the University of Malaga since she has been offered a permanent position as an independent researcher.

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