The application of Arabidopsis genetics to research into the responses of plants to light has enabled rapid recent advances in this field. The plant photoreceptor phytochrome mediates well-defined responses that can be exploited to provide elegant and specific genetic screens. By this means, not only have mutants affecting the phytochromes themselves been isolated, but also mutants affecting the transduction of phytochrome signals. The genes involved in these processes have now begun to be characterized by using this genetic approach to isolate signal transduction components. Most of the components characterized so far are capable of being translocated to the cell nucleus, and they may help to define a new system of regulation of gene expression. This review summarises the ongoing contribution made by genetics to our understanding of light perception and signal transduction by the phytochrome system.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.