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Summary

Many endogenous and environmental signals control seedling growth, including several phototransduction pathways. We demonstrate that the circadian clock controls the elongation of the Arabidopsis hypocotyl immediately upon germination. The pattern of hypocotyl elongation in constant light includes a daily growth arrest spanning subjective dawn and an interval of rapid growth at subjective dusk. Maximal hypocotyl growth coincides with the phase during which the cotyledons are raised, in the previously described rhythm of cotyledon movement. The rhythm of hypocotyl elongation was entrained by light–dark cycles applied to the imbibed seed and its period was shortened in thetoc1–1mutant, indicating that it is controlled by a similar circadian system to other rhythmic markers. The daily growth arrest is abolished by theearly flowering 3 (elf3) mutation, suggesting that this defect may cause its long-hypocotyl phenotype. Mutations that affect the circadian system can therefore cause gross morphological phenotypes, not because the wild-type gene functions pleiotropically in several signalling pathways, but rather because the circadian clock exerts widespread control over plant physiology.