Journal Article

Serotonin, a Tryptophan-Derived Signal Conserved in Plants and Animals, Regulates Root System Architecture Probably Acting as a Natural Auxin Inhibitor in <i>Arabidopsis thaliana</i>

Ramón Pelagio-Flores, Randy Ortíz-Castro, Alfonso Méndez-Bravo, Lourdes Macías-Rodríguez and Jose López-Bucio

in Plant and Cell Physiology

Published on behalf of Japanese Society of Plant Physiologists

Volume 52, issue 3, pages 490-508
Published in print March 2011 | ISSN: 0032-0781
Published online January 2011 | e-ISSN: 1471-9053 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/pcp/pcr006
Serotonin, a Tryptophan-Derived Signal Conserved in Plants and Animals, Regulates Root System Architecture Probably Acting as a Natural Auxin Inhibitor in Arabidopsis thaliana

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Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine) is a well-known neurotransmitter in mammals and is widely distributed in plants. This compound is synthesized from tryptophan and shares structural similarity with IAA. To date, little is known about the morphological, physiological and molecular responses of plants to serotonin. In this study, we characterized the effects of serotonin on growth and development in Arabidopsis thaliana seedlings. Gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS) analysis showed that plants are able to take up serotonin from the growth medium, which coincided with greatly stimulated lateral root development at concentrations from 10 to 160 μM. In contrast, higher doses of serotonin repressed lateral root growth, primary root growth and root hair development, but stimulated adventitious root formation. To investigate the role of serotonin in modulating auxin responses, we performed experiments using transgenic Arabidopsis lines expressing the auxin-responsive marker constructs DR5:uidA, BA3:uidA and HS::AXR3NT-GUS, as well as a variety of Arabidopsis mutants defective at the AUX1, AXR1, AXR2 and AXR4 auxin-related loci. We found that serotonin strongly inhibited both DR5:uidA and BA3:uidA gene expression in primary and adventitious roots and in lateral root primordia. This compound also abolished the effects of IAA or naphthaleneacetic acid on auxin-regulated developmental and genetic responses, indicating an anti-auxin activity in the plant. Mutant analysis further showed that lateral root induction elicited by serotonin was independent of the AUX1 and AXR4 loci but required AXR1 and AXR2. Our results show that serotonin regulates root development probably by acting as a natural auxin inhibitor.

Keywords: Arabidopsis; Auxin signaling; Root architecture; Serotonin

Journal Article.  9098 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Biochemistry ; Molecular and Cell Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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