Vera Straetmanns

Presenting: Vera Straetmanns

One of the speakers at The Organic and the Normative conference, taking place between July 30–August 1, 2024 in Ljubljana, Slovenia, is going to be Vera Straetmanns.

Vera Straetmanns is a PhD student at Ruhr-University Bochum in the DFG Emmy Noether Research Group The Return of the Organism in the Biosciences: Theoretical, Historical, and Social Dimensions. She studied biology in Bochum with a focus on molecular plant physiology. Afterwards, she successfully obtained a M.A. degree in History, Philosophy and Culture of Science (HPS+) in Bochum with a master thesis on plant morphologist Agnes Arber (1879-1960). In her dissertation project, Vera works on the reasoning about agency and individuality in plants between 1900 and today with a special focus on organicist theories in the early 20 th century. Besides this, Vera is interested in the role and impact of women in (early) botany as well as romantic conceptions of nature and science.

Highlighted Article

Merendino, Livia & Courtois, Florence & Grübler, Björn & Bastien, Olivier & Straetmanns, Vera & Chevalier, Fabien & Lerbs-Mache, Silva & Lurin, Claire & Pfannschmidt, Thomas. (2020). Retrograde signals from mitochondria reprogramme skoto-morphogenesis in Arabidopsis thaliana via alternative oxidase 1a. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 375. 20190567. 10.1098/rstb.2019.0567.

The early steps in germination and development of angiosperm seedlings often occur in the dark, inducing a special developmental programme called skoto-morphogenesis. Under these conditions photosynthesis cannot work and all energetic requirements must be fulfilled by mitochondrial metabolization of storage energies. Here, we report the physiological impact of mitochondrial dysfunctions on the skoto-morphogenic programme by using the Arabidopsis rpoTmp mutant. This mutant is defective in the T7-phage-type organellar RNA polymerase shared by plastids and mitochondria. Lack of this enzyme causes a mitochondrial dysfunction resulting in a strongly reduced mitochondrial respiratory chain and a compensatory upregulation of the alternative-oxidase (AOX)-dependent respiration. Surprisingly, the mutant exhibits a triple-response-like phenotype with a twisted apical hook and a shortened hypocotyl. Highly similar phenotypes were detected in other respiration mutants ( rug3 and atphb3) and in WT seedlings treated with the respiration inhibitor KCN. Further genetic and molecular data suggest that the observed skoto-morphogenic alterations are specifically dependent on the activity of the AOX1a enzyme. Microarray analyses indicated that a retrograde signal from mitochondria activates the ANAC017-dependent pathway which controls the activation of AOX1A transcription. In sum, our analysis identifies AOX as a functional link that couples the formation of a triple-response-like phenotype to mitochondrial dysfunction. This article is part of the theme issue ‘Retrograde signalling from endosymbiotic organelles’.