Sugar and phytohormone response pathways: navigating a signalling network

J Exp Bot. 2004 Jan;55(395):253-64. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erh048. Epub 2003 Dec 12.


Many plant developmental, physiological and metabolic processes are regulated, at least in part, by nutrient availability. In particular, alterations in the availability of soluble sugars, such as glucose and sucrose, help regulate a diverse array of processes. Multiple lines of evidence indicate that many of these processes are also regulated in response to other signalling molecules, such as phytohormones. This review draws examples from a variety of plant systems, including bean, Arabidopsis, potato, and cereals. Five of the most interesting and best developed examples of processes regulated via 'interactions' or 'crosstalk' between sugars and phytohormones are described, including embryogenesis, seed germination, early seedling development, tuberization, and the regulation of alpha-amylase activity. The types of mechanisms by which different response pathways are known or postulated to interact are also described. These mechanisms include regulation of the metabolism and/or transport of a signalling molecule by a different response pathway. For example, sugars have been postulated to help regulate the synthesis, conjugation and/or transport of phytohormones, such as gibberellins and abscisic acid. Conversely, phytohormones, such as abscisic acid, gibberellins and cytokinins have been shown to help regulate sugar metabolism and/or transport. Similarly, sugars have been shown to regulate the expression of components of phytohormone-response pathways and phytohormones regulate the expression of some genes encoding possible components of sugar-response pathways. Examples of proteins and second messengers that appear to act in multiple response pathways are also described.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / physiology
  • Carbohydrates / physiology*
  • Edible Grain / physiology
  • Fabaceae / physiology
  • Photosynthesis / physiology
  • Plant Growth Regulators / physiology*
  • Plant Physiological Phenomena*
  • Plant Roots / physiology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Solanum tuberosum / physiology
  • Species Specificity


  • Carbohydrates
  • Plant Growth Regulators