Opposing roles of phytochrome A and phytochrome B in early cryptochrome-mediated growth inhibition

Plant J. 2001 Nov;28(3):333-40. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-313x.2001.01157.x.


The cryptochrome 1 (cry1) photoreceptor is responsible for the majority of the inhibitory effect of blue light on hypocotyl elongation, but phytochrome photoreceptors also contribute to the response through a phenomenon known as coaction. In Arabidopsis thaliana the participation of phytochromes A and B (phyA and phyB) in the early phase of cry1 action was investigated by determining the effects of phyA, phyB and hy1 mutations on a cry1-dependent membrane depolarization, which is caused by the activation of plasma-membrane anion channels within seconds of blue light treatment. High-resolution growth measurements were also performed to determine the timing of the requirement for phytochrome in cry1-mediated growth inhibition, which is causally linked to the preceding anion-channel activation. A null mutation in PHYA impaired the membrane depolarization and prevented the early cry1-dependent phase of growth inhibition as effectively and with the same time course as mutations in CRY1. Thus, phyA is necessary for cry1/cry2 to activate anion channels within the first few seconds of blue light and to suppress hypocotyl elongation for at least 120 min. This finding furthers the notion of an intimate mechanistic association between the cry and phy receptors in mediating light responses. The absence of phyB did not affect the depolarization or growth inhibition during this time frame. Instead, double mutant analyses showed that the phyB mutation suppressed the early growth phenotypes of both phyA and cry1 seedlings. This result is consistent with the emerging view that the prevailing growth rate of a stem is a compromise between light-dependent inhibitory and promotive influences. It appears that phyB opposes the cry1/phyA-mediated inhibition by promoting growth during at least the first 120 min of blue light treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Anthocyanins
  • Arabidopsis / growth & development*
  • Arabidopsis / physiology
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / physiology*
  • Hypocotyl
  • Kinetics
  • Light
  • Photoreceptor Cells*
  • Phytochrome / physiology*
  • Phytochrome A
  • Phytochrome B
  • Transcription Factors*


  • Anthocyanins
  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • PHYA protein, Arabidopsis
  • PHYB protein, Arabidopsis
  • Phytochrome A
  • Transcription Factors
  • Phytochrome
  • Phytochrome B