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Curr Biol. 2013 Oct 7;23(19):1934-8. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.07.079. Epub 2013 Sep 26.

Defining the site of light perception and initiation of phototropism in Arabidopsis.

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Centre for Integrative Genomics, Faculty of Biology and Medicine, University of Lausanne, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland.


Phototropism is an adaptive response allowing plants to optimize photosynthetic light capture. This is achieved by asymmetric growth between the shaded and lit sides of the stimulated organ. In grass seedlings, the site of phototropin-mediated light perception is distinct from the site of bending; however, in dicotyledonous plants (e.g., Arabidopsis), spatial aspects of perception remain debatable. We use morphological studies and genetics to show that phototropism can occur in the absence of the root, lower hypocotyl, hypocotyl apex, and cotyledons. Tissue-specific expression of the phototropin1 (phot1) photoreceptor demonstrates that light sensing occurs in the upper hypocotyl and that expression of phot1 in the hypocotyl elongation zone is sufficient to enable a normal phototropic response. Moreover, we show that efficient phototropism occurs when phot1 is expressed from endodermal, cortical, or epidermal cells and that its local activation rapidly leads to a global response throughout the seedling. We propose that spatial aspects in the steps leading from light perception to growth reorientation during phototropism differ between grasses and dicots. These results are important to properly interpret genetic experiments and establish a model connecting light perception to the growth response, including cellular and morphological aspects.

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