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Keywords:

  • hormone metabolites;
  • ethylene response mutant;
  • auxins;
  • cytokinins;
  • abscisic acid;
  • gibberellins;
  • dormancy;
  • germination

Summary

In Arabidopsis thaliana, the etr1-2 mutation confers dominant ethylene insensitivity and results in a greater proportion of mature seeds that exhibit dormancy compared with mature seeds of the wild-type. We investigated the impact of the etr1-2 mutation on other plant hormones by analyzing the profiles of four classes of plant hormones and their metabolites by HPLC-ESI/MS/MS in mature seeds of wild-type and etr1-2 plants. Hormone metabolites were analyzed in seeds imbibed immediately under germination conditions, in seeds subjected to a 7-day moist-chilling (stratification) period, and during germination/early post-germinative growth. Higher than wild-type levels of abscisic acid (ABA) appeared to contribute, at least in part, to the greater incidence of dormancy in mature seeds of etr1-2. The lower levels of abscisic acid glucose ester (ABA-GE) in etr1-2 seeds compared with wild-type seeds under germination conditions (with and without moist-chilling treatments) suggest that reduced metabolism of ABA to ABA-GE likely contributed to the accumulation of ABA during germination in the mutant. The mutant seeds exhibited generally higher auxin levels and a large build-up of indole-3-aspartate when placed in germination conditions following moist-chilling. The mutant manifested increased levels of cytokinin glucosides through zeatin-O-glucosylation (Z-O-Glu). The resulting increase in Z-O-Glu was the largest and most consistent change associated with the ETR1 gene mutation. There were more gibberellins (GA) and at higher concentrations in the mutant than in wild-type. Our results suggest that ethylene signaling modulates the metabolism of all the other plant hormone pathways in seeds. Additionally, the hormone profiles of etr1-2 seed during germination suggest a requirement for higher than wild-type levels of GA to promote germination in the absence of a functional ethylene signaling pathway.