Micrografting techniques for testing long-distance signalling in Arabidopsis

Plant J. 2002 Oct;32(2):255-62. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-313x.2002.01419.x.


Grafting in species other than Arabidopsis has generated persuasive evidence for long-distance signals involved in many plant processes, including regulation of flowering time and shoot branching. Hitherto, such approaches in Arabidopsis have been hampered by the lack of suitable grafting techniques. Here, a range of micrografting methods for young Arabidopsis seedlings are described. The simplest configuration was a single-hypocotyl graft, constructed with or without a supporting collar, allowing tests of root-shoot communication. More complex two-shoot grafts were also constructed, enabling tests of shoot-shoot communication. Integrity of grafts and absence of adventitious roots on scions were assessed using plants constitutively expressing a GUS gene as one graft partner. Using the max1 (more axillary growth) and max3 increased branching mutants, it was shown that a wild-type (WT) rootstock was able to inhibit rosette branching of mutant shoots. In two-shoot grafts with max1 and WT shoots on a max1 rootstock, the mutant shoot branched profusely, but the WT one did not. In two-shoot grafts with max1 and WT shoots on a WT rootstock, neither shoot exhibited increased branching. The results mirror those previously demonstrated in equivalent grafting experiments with the ramosus mutants in pea, and are consistent with the concept that a branching signal is capable of moving from root to shoot, but not from shoot to shoot. These grafting procedures will be valuable for revealing genes associated with many other long-distance signalling pathways, including flowering, systemic resistance and abiotic stress responses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / physiology*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / physiology*
  • Glucuronidase / genetics
  • Glucuronidase / metabolism
  • Hypocotyl / physiology
  • Mutation
  • Plant Roots / physiology
  • Plant Shoots / physiology
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • MAX1 protein, Arabidopsis
  • Glucuronidase