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Plant Direct. 2019 Oct 14;3(10):e00170. doi: 10.1002/pld3.170. eCollection 2019 Oct.

A synthetic peptide encoded by a random DNA sequence inhibits discrete red light responses.

Author information

Genetics and Genomics Graduate Program University of Florida Gainesville FL USA.
Horticultural Sciences Department University of Florida Gainesville FL USA.
Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology Program University of Florida Gainesville FL USA.


We have identified a synthetic peptide that interrupts discrete aspects of seedling development under red light. Previous reports have demonstrated that plants transformed with random DNA sequences produce synthetic peptides that affect plant biology. In this report, one specific peptide is characterized that inhibits discrete aspects of red light-mediated photomorphogenic development in Arabidopsis thaliana . Seedlings expressing the PEP6-32 peptide presented longer hypocotyls and diminished cotyledon expansion when grown under red light. Other red light-mediated seedling processes such as induction of Lhcb (cab) transcripts or loss of vertical growth remained unaffected. Long-term responses to red light in PEP6-32 expressing plants, such as repression of flowering time, did not show defects in red light signaling or integration. A synthesized peptide applied exogenously induced the long-hypocotyl phenotype under red light in non-transformed seedlings. The results indicate that the PEP6-32 peptide causes discrete cell expansion abnormalities during early seedling development in red light that mimic weak phyB alleles, yet only in some aspects of seedling photomorphogenesis. The findings demonstrate that new chemistries derived from random peptide expression can modulate specific facets of plant growth and development.


Arabidopsis thaliana; peptides; photomorphogenesis; random DNA sequence; red light; synthetic biology

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no conflict of interest associated with the work described in this manuscript.

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