Magnetic sensitivity mediated by the Arabidopsis blue-light receptor cryptochrome occurs during flavin reoxidation in the dark

Research paper by Marootpong Pooam, Louis-David Arthaut, Derek Burdick, Justin Link, Carlos F. Martino, Margaret Ahmad

Indexed on: 08 Sep '18Published on: 07 Sep '18Published in: Planta


Arabidopsis cryptochrome mediates responses to magnetic fields that have been applied in the absence of light, consistent with flavin reoxidation as the primary detection mechanism.Cryptochromes are highly conserved blue-light-absorbing flavoproteins which have been linked to the perception of electromagnetic stimuli in numerous organisms. These include sensing the direction of the earth’s magnetic field in migratory birds and the intensity of magnetic fields in insects and plants. When exposed to light, cryptochromes undergo flavin reduction/reoxidation redox cycles leading to biological activation which generate radical pairs thought to be the basis for magnetic sensitivity. However, the nature of the magnetically sensitive radical pairs and the steps at which they act during the cryptochrome redox cycle are currently a matter of debate. Here, we investigate the response of Arabidopsis cryptochrome-1 in vivo to a static magnetic field of 500 μT (10 × earth’s field) using both plant growth and light-dependent phosphorylation as an assay. Cryptochrome responses to light were enhanced by the magnetic field, as indicated by increased inhibition of hypocotyl elongation and increased cryptochrome phosphorylation. However, when light and dark intervals were given intermittently, a plant response to the magnetic field was observed even when the magnetic field was given exclusively during the dark intervals between light exposures. This indicates that the magnetically sensitive reaction step in the cryptochrome photocycle must occur during flavin reoxidation, and likely involves the formation of reactive oxygen species.