A chemical complementation approach reveals genes and interactions of flavonoids with other pathways

Authors

  • Lucille Pourcel,

    1. Center for Applied Plant Sciences and Department of Molecular Genetics, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA
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    • Present address: Université de Genève, Département de Botanique et Biologie Végétale, Sciences III, 30 Quai Ernest-Ansermet, 1211 Genève, Switzerland.
  • Niloufer G. Irani,

    1. Center for Applied Plant Sciences and Department of Molecular Genetics, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA
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    • Present address: Department of Plant Systems Biology, Flanders Institute for Biotechnology, and Department of Plant Biotechnology and Genetics, Ghent University, 9052 Ghent, Belgium.
  • Abraham J. K. Koo,

    1. Department of Energy Plant Research Laboratory, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA
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  • Andres Bohorquez-Restrepo,

    1. Center for Applied Plant Sciences and Department of Molecular Genetics, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA
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  • Gregg A. Howe,

    1. Department of Energy Plant Research Laboratory, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA
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  • Erich Grotewold

    Corresponding author
    • Center for Applied Plant Sciences and Department of Molecular Genetics, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA
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For correspondence (e-mail grotewold1@osu.edu).

Summary

In addition to the classical functions of flavonoids in the response to biotic/abiotic stress conditions, these phenolic compounds have been implicated in the modulation of various developmental processes. These findings suggest that flavonoids are more integral components of the plant signaling machinery than traditionally recognized. To understand how flux through the flavonoid pathway affects plant cellular processes, we used wild-type and chalcone isomerase mutant (transparent testa 5, tt5) seedlings grown under anthocyanin inductive conditions, in the presence or absence of the flavonoid intermediate naringenin, the product of the chalcone isomerase enzyme. Because flavonoid biosynthetic genes are expressed under anthocyanin inductive conditions regardless of whether anthocyanins are formed or not, this system provides an excellent opportunity to specifically investigate the molecular changes associated with increased flux through the flavonoid pathway. By assessing genome-wide mRNA accumulation changes in naringenin-treated and untreated tt5 and wild-type seedlings, we identified a flavonoid-responsive gene set associated with cellular trafficking, stress responses and cellular signaling. Jasmonate biosynthetic genes were highly represented among the signaling pathways induced by increased flux through the flavonoid pathway. In contrast to studies showing a role for flavonoids in the control of auxin transport, no effect on auxin-responsive genes was observed. Taken together, our data suggest that Arabidopsis can sense flavonoids as a signal for multiple fundamental cellular processes.

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