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Plant Mol Biol. 2009 Sep;71(1-2):61-80. doi: 10.1007/s11103-009-9509-7. Epub 2009 Jun 10.

Antagonism between abscisic acid and ethylene in Arabidopsis acts in parallel with the reciprocal regulation of their metabolism and signaling pathways.

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Institute of Plant and Microbial Biology, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China.


Although abscisic acid (ABA) and ethylene have antagonistic functions in the control of plant growth and development, including seed germination and early seedling development, it remains unknown whether a convergent point exists between these two signaling pathways or whether they operate in parallel in Arabidopsis thaliana. To elucidate this issue, four ethylene mutants, ctr1, ein2, ein3, and ein6, were crossed with aba2 (also known as gin1-3) to generate double mutants. Genetic epistasis analysis revealed that all of the resulting double mutants displayed aba2 mutant phenotypes with a small plant size and wiltiness when grown in soil or on agar plates. Further ethylene sensitivity or triple response analyses demonstrated that these double mutants also retained the ctr1 or ein mutant phenotypes, showing ethylene constitutive triple and insensitive responses, respectively. Our current data therefore demonstrate that ABA and ethylene act in parallel, at least in primary signal transduction pathways. Moreover, by microarray analysis we found that an ACC oxidase (ACO) was significantly upregulated in the aba2 mutant, whereas the 9-CIS-EPOXYCAROTENOID DIOXYGENASE 3 (NCED3) gene in ein2 was upregulated, and both the ABSCISIC ACID INSENSITIVE1 (ABI1) and cytochrome P450, family 707, subfamily A, polypeptide 2 (CYP707A2) genes in etr1-1 were downregulated. These data further suggest that ABA and ethylene may control the hormonal biosynthesis, catabolism, or signaling of each other to enhance their antagonistic effects upon seed germination and early seedling growth.

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