Strigolactones affect responses to osmotic stress and fruit ripening in crop plants

author: Andrea Schubert, University of Turin
published: April 17, 2018,   recorded: March 2018,   views: 887


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Strigolactones (SLs) are a class carotenoid-derived molecules, originally characterized as mediators of plant signaling to soil (micro)organisms, including parasitic plants, endomycorrhizal fungi, and nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Later on, the study of Arabidopsis and rice branching mutants showed that SL also strongly repress the growth of axillary buds (Umehara et al., 2008). SLs are mostly synthesized in roots and are present in the shoot at very low concentrations. The action of SL on shoot branching may be mediated by complex interaction with other hormones, namely auxin and cytokinins (Ruyter-Spira et al., 2013).

Recent studies have demonstrated that SLs are also involved in responses to osmotic stress. Tomato genotypes with reduced SL levels are hypersensitive to drought stress (Visentin et al., 2016), while SL supplementation abolishes the drought-sensitive genotype. SL-dependent changes in stress susceptibility are linked to an ABA signalling-dependent modulation of stomatal closure, suggesting that strigolactones may interact with the ABA signal upon stress. Furthermore, SLs may control the abundance of small, mobile miRNAs, such as miRNA156, which contribute to drought stress tolerance in plants.

SLs affect transition to flowering in crop plants (Ledger et al., 2010) but its effects on fruit ripening have been little explored, although they could be involved in this process, as ABA is a potent inducer of ripening in many fruits. We tested the effects of exogenous SL on ABA-induced ripening of grapevine berries, demonstrating an inhibitory effect of SL, possibly due to regulation of ABA membrane transport and catabolism.

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