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J Exp Bot. 2006;57(2):329-41. Epub 2005 Dec 5.

Systemic signalling of environmental cues in Arabidopsis leaves.

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  • 1Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, The University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK.


Light intensity and atmospheric CO2 partial pressure are two environmental signals known to regulate stomatal numbers. It has previously been shown that if a mature Arabidopsis leaf is supplied with either elevated CO2 (750 ppm instead of ambient at 370 ppm) or reduced light levels (50 micromol m-2 s-1 instead of 250 micromol m-2 s-1), the young, developing leaves that are not receiving the treatment grow with a stomatal density as if they were exposed to the treatment. But the signal(s) that it is believed is generated in the mature leaves and transmitted to developing leaves are largely unknown. Photosynthetic rates of treated, mature Arabidopsis leaves increased in elevated CO2 and decreased when shaded, as would be expected. Similarly, the levels of sugars (glucose, fructose, and sucrose) in the treated mature leaves increased in elevated CO2 and decreased with shade treatment. The levels of sugar in developing leaves were also measured and it was found that they mirrored this result even though they were not receiving the shade or elevated CO2 treatment. To investigate the effect of these treatments on global gene expression patterns, transcriptomics analysis was carried out using Affymetrix, 22K, and ATH1 arrays. Total RNA was extracted from the developing leaves after the mature leaves had received either the ambient control treatment, the elevated CO2 treatment, or the shade treatment, or both elevated CO2 and shade treatments for 2, 4, 12, 24, 48, or 96 h. The experiment was replicated four times. Two other experiments were also conducted, one to compare and contrast gene expression in response to plants grown at elevated CO2 and the other to look at the effect of these treatments on the mature leaf. The data were analysed and 915 genes from the untreated, signalled leaves were identified as having expression levels affected by the shade treatment. These genes were then compared with those whose transcript abundance was affected by the shade treatment in the mature treated leaves (1181 genes) and with 220 putative 'stomatal signalling' genes previously identified from studies of the yoda mutant. The results of these experiments and how they relate to environmental signalling are discussed, as well as possible mechanisms for systemic signalling.

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