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J Plant Growth Regul. 2015;34(4):740-60. doi: 10.1007/s00344-015-9546-1. Epub 2015 Oct 13.

A Century of Gibberellin Research.

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Rothamsted Research, West Common, Harpenden, AL5 2JQ Hertfordshire UK.
Department of Biology, The University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX 78249 USA.


Gibberellin research has its origins in Japan in the 19th century, when a disease of rice was shown to be due to a fungal infection. The symptoms of the disease including overgrowth of the seedling and sterility were later shown to be due to secretions of the fungus Gibberella fujikuroi (now reclassified as Fusarium fujikuroi), from which the name gibberellin was derived for the active component. The profound effect of gibberellins on plant growth and development, particularly growth recovery in dwarf mutants and induction of bolting and flowering in some rosette species, prompted speculation that these fungal metabolites were endogenous plant growth regulators and this was confirmed by chemical characterisation in the late 1950s. Gibberellins are now known to be present in vascular plants, and some fungal and bacterial species. The biosynthesis of gibberellins in plants and the fungus has been largely resolved in terms of the pathways, enzymes, genes and their regulation. The proposal that gibberellins act in plants by removing growth limitation was confirmed by the demonstration that they induce the degradation of the growth-inhibiting DELLA proteins. The mechanism by which this is achieved was clarified by the identification of the gibberellin receptor from rice in 2005. Current research on gibberellin action is focussed particularly on the function of DELLA proteins as regulators of gene expression. This review traces the history of gibberellin research with emphasis on the early discoveries that enabled the more recent advances in this field.


Evolution; Gibberella fujikuroi; Gibberellin action; Gibberellin biosynthesis; Gibberellin transport

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