Indexed on: 20 Aug '17Published on: 20 Aug '17Published in: Plant physiology
A rice mutant led to the discovery of a plant-specific LAZY1 protein that controls the orientation of shoots. Arabidopsis thaliana possesses six LAZY genes having spatially distinct expression patterns. Branch angle phenotypes previously associated with single LAZY genes were here studied in roots and shoots of single and higher-order atlazy mutants. The results identify the major contributors to root and shoot branch angles and gravitropic behavior of seedling hypocotyls and primary roots. AtLAZY1 is the principal determinant of inflorescence branch angle. The weeping inflorescence phenotype of atlazy1,2,4 mutants may be due at least in part to a reversal in the gravitropism mechanism. AtLAZY2 and AtLAZY4 determined lateral root branch angle. Lateral roots of the atlazy2,4 double mutant emerged slightly upward, approximately ten degrees greater than perpendicular to the primary root axis, and they were agravitropic. Etiolated hypocotyls of the quadruple atlazy1,2,3,4 mutant were essentially agravitropic, though their phototropic response was robust. In light-grown seedlings, the root of the atlazy2,3,4 mutant was also agravitropic but when adapted to dim red light it displayed a reversed gravitropic response. A reversed auxin gradient across the root visualized by a fluorescent signaling reporter explained the reversed, upward bending response. We propose that AtLAZY proteins control plant architecture by coupling gravity sensing to the formation of auxin gradients that override a LAZY-independent mechanism that creates an opposing gravity-induced auxin gradient.