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Plant Cell Environ. 2018 Nov;41(11):2577-2588. doi: 10.1111/pce.13341. Epub 2018 Aug 5.

Root-expressed phytochromes B1 and B2, but not PhyA and Cry2, regulate shoot growth in nature.

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Department of Molecular Ecology, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Hans-Knöll-Straße 8, D-07745, Jena, Germany.
Department of Chemistry, Seoul National University, Seoul, 08826, South Korea.


Although photoreceptors are expressed throughout all plant organs, most studies have focused on their function in aerial parts with laboratory-grown plants. Photoreceptor function in naturally dark-grown roots of plants in their native habitats is lacking. We characterized patterns of photoreceptor expression in field- and glasshouse-grown Nicotiana attenuata plants, silenced the expression of PhyB1/B2/A/Cry2 whose root transcripts levels were greater/equal to those of shoots, and by micrografting combined empty vector transformed shoots onto photoreceptor-silenced roots, creating chimeric plants with "blind" roots but "sighted" shoots. Micrografting procedure was robust in both field and glasshouse, as demonstrated by transcript accumulation patterns, and a spatially-explicit lignin visual reporter chimeric line. Field- and glasshouse-grown plants with PhyB1B2, but not PhyA or Cry2, -blind roots, were delayed in stalk elongation compared with control plants, robustly for two field seasons. Wild-type plants with roots directly exposed to FR phenocopied the growth of irPhyB1B2-blind root grafts. Additionally, root-expressed PhyB1B2 was required to activate the positive photomorphogenic regulator, HY5, in response to aboveground light. We conclude that roots of plants growing deep into the soil in nature sense aboveground light, and possibly soil temperature, via PhyB1B2 to control key traits, such as stalk elongation.


HY5; grafting; growth; light; phytochrome B; roots

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