Plant proteostasis: controlling protein stability for sustainable agriculture

Rationale and scope

The control of protein degradation (‘proteostasis’) is a central feature of cellular signalling and functioning in eukaryotes, by ubiquitin- and ubiquitin like proteins (such as SUMO) and autophagy.


The Arabidopsis genome project identified more than a thousand genes encoding components of pathways of protein degradation, representing about 10% of the entire plant proteome, far more than any other eukaryote group, indicating that for plants control of protein stability is a key adaptive trait.


Mutations in components of these systems affect all aspects of plant development, abiotic stress tolerance and pathogen defence. To date all plant hormone receptors are components of the ubiquitylation process. This illustrates the extent to which plants have evolved to rely on protein degradation as a central signalling mechanism.


In the last two decades research in the area of plant proteostasis has been intense, and resulted in many ground-breaking discoveries that have significantly enhanced our understanding of plant cellular signalling. However, many key questions remain unanswered and in particular the molecular interaction between the different areas of proteostasis and signalling consequences remains an important under-explored area. This two-day New Phytologist Workshop will aim to fill this gap, to focus on the role of proteostasis in diverse aspects of plant development and response to environment.  In particular we will aim to identify avenues for the application of protein modification systems to the development of solutions for sustainable agriculture.