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Plant J. 2005 Dec;44(5):756-68.

Contrasting interactions between ethylene and abscisic acid in Rumex species differing in submergence tolerance.

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Plant Ecophysiology, Utrecht University, the Netherlands.


Complete submergence of flooding-tolerant Rumex palustris plants strongly stimulates petiole elongation. This escape response is initiated by the accumulation of ethylene inside the submerged tissue. In contrast, petioles of flooding-intolerant Rumex acetosa do not increase their elongation rate under water even though ethylene also accumulates when they are submerged. Abscisic acid (ABA) was found to be a negative regulator of enhanced petiole growth in both species. In R. palustris, accumulated ethylene stimulated elongation by inhibiting biosynthesis of ABA via a reduction of RpNCED expression and enhancing degradation of ABA to phaseic acid. Externally applied ABA inhibited petiole elongation and prevented the upregulation of gibberellin A(1) normally found in submerged R. palustris. In R. acetosa submergence did not stimulate petiole elongation nor did it depress levels of ABA. However, if ABA concentrations in R. acetosa were first artificially reduced, submergence (but not ethylene) was then able to enhance petiole elongation strongly. This result suggests that in Rumex a decrease in ABA is a prerequisite for ethylene and other stimuli to promote elongation.

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