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Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Rice University, Houston, Texas 77005.


Indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) is the most abundant naturally occurring auxin. Plants produce active IAA both by de novo synthesis and by releasing IAA from conjugates. This review emphasizes recent genetic experiments and complementary biochemical analyses that are beginning to unravel the complexities of IAA biosynthesis in plants. Multiple pathways exist for de novo IAA synthesis in plants, and a number of plant enzymes can liberate IAA from conjugates. This multiplicity has contributed to the current situation in which no pathway of IAA biosynthesis in plants has been unequivocally established. Genetic and biochemical experiments have demonstrated both tryptophan-dependent and tryptophan-independent routes of IAA biosynthesis. The recent application of precise and sensitive methods for quantitation of IAA and its metabolites to plant mutants disrupted in various aspects of IAA regulation is beginning to elucidate the multiple pathways that control IAA levels in the plant.

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