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Plant Physiol. 2006 Apr;140(4):1384-96. Epub 2006 Feb 17.

Ethylene modulates flavonoid accumulation and gravitropic responses in roots of Arabidopsis.

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Department of Biology, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27109, USA.


Plant organs change their growth direction in response to reorientation relative to the gravity vector. We explored the role of ethylene in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) root gravitropism. Treatment of wild-type Columbia seedlings with the ethylene precursor 1-aminocyclopropane carboxylic acid (ACC) reduced root elongation and gravitropic curvature. The ethylene-insensitive mutants ein2-5 and etr1-3 had wild-type root gravity responses, but lacked the growth and gravity inhibition by ACC found in the wild type. We examined the effect of ACC on tt4(2YY6) seedlings, which have a null mutation in the gene encoding chalcone synthase, the first enzyme in flavonoid synthesis. The tt4(2YY6) mutant makes no flavonoids, has elevated indole-3-acetic acid transport, and exhibits a delayed gravity response. Roots of tt4(2YY6), the backcrossed line tt4-2, and two other tt4 alleles had wild-type sensitivity to growth inhibition by ACC, whereas the root gravitropic curvature of these tt4 alleles was much less inhibited by ACC than wild-type roots, suggesting that ACC may reduce gravitropic curvature by altering flavonoid synthesis. ACC treatment induced flavonoid accumulation in root tips, as judged by a dye that becomes fluorescent upon binding flavonoids in wild type, but not in ein2-5 and etr1-3. ACC also prevented a transient peak in flavonoid synthesis in response to gravity. Together, these experiments suggest that elevated ethylene levels negatively regulate root gravitropism, using EIN2- and ETR1-dependent pathways, and that ACC inhibition of gravity response occurs through altering flavonoid synthesis.

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