• ethylene;
  • lateral roots;
  • auxin transport;
  • Solanum lycopersicum;
  • tomato;
  • adventitious roots


In this study we investigated the role of ethylene in the formation of lateral and adventitious roots in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) using mutants isolated for altered ethylene signaling and fruit ripening. Mutations that block ethylene responses and delay ripening –Nr (Never ripe), gr (green ripe), nor (non ripening), and rin (ripening inhibitor) – have enhanced lateral root formation. In contrast, the epi (epinastic) mutant, which has elevated ethylene and constitutive ethylene signaling in some tissues, or treatment with the ethylene precursor 1-aminocyclopropane carboxylic acid (ACC), reduces lateral root formation. Treatment with ACC inhibits the initiation and elongation of lateral roots, except in the Nr genotype. Root basipetal and acropetal indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) transport increase with ACC treatments or in the epi mutant, while in the Nr mutant there is less auxin transport than in the wild type and transport is insensitive to ACC. In contrast, the process of adventitious root formation shows the opposite response to ethylene, with ACC treatment and the epi mutation increasing adventitious root formation and the Nr mutation reducing the number of adventitious roots. In hypocotyls, ACC treatment negatively regulated IAA transport while the Nr mutant showed increased IAA transport in hypocotyls. Ethylene significantly reduces free IAA content in roots, but only subtly changes free IAA content in tomato hypocotyls. These results indicate a negative role for ethylene in lateral root formation and a positive role in adventitious root formation with modulation of auxin transport as a central point of ethylene–auxin crosstalk.