N-acyl-L-homoserine lactones: a class of bacterial quorum-sensing signals alter post-embryonic root development in Arabidopsis thaliana

Plant Cell Environ. 2008 Oct;31(10):1497-509. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3040.2008.01863.x. Epub 2008 Jul 24.


N-acyl-homoserine lactones (AHLs) belong to a class of bacterial quorum-sensing signals important for bacterial cell-to-cell communication. We evaluated Arabidopsis thaliana growth responses to a variety of AHLs ranging from 4 to 14 carbons in length, focusing on alterations in post-embryonic root development as a way to determine the biological activity of these signals. The compounds affected primary root growth, lateral root formation and root hair development, and in particular, N-decanoyl-HL (C10-HL) was found to be the most active AHL in altering root system architecture. Developmental changes elicited by C10-HL were related to altered expression of cell division and differentiation marker lines pPRZ1:uidA, CycB1:uidA and pAtEXP7:uidA in Arabidopsis roots. Although the effects of C10-HL were similar to those produced by auxins in modulating root system architecture, the primary and lateral root response to this compound was found to be independent of auxin signalling. Furthermore, we show that mutant and overexpressor lines for an Arabidopsis fatty acid amide hydrolase gene (AtFAAH) sustained altered growth response to C10-HL. All together, our results suggest that AHLs alter root development in Arabidopsis and that plants posses the enzymatic machinery to metabolize these compounds.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acyl-Butyrolactones / pharmacology*
  • Amidohydrolases / metabolism
  • Arabidopsis / drug effects
  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / growth & development*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Division
  • Indoleacetic Acids / pharmacology
  • Phenotype
  • Plant Growth Regulators / pharmacology
  • Plant Roots / drug effects
  • Plant Roots / growth & development*
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / drug effects
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / growth & development
  • Quorum Sensing*
  • Seedlings / drug effects
  • Seedlings / growth & development


  • Acyl-Butyrolactones
  • Indoleacetic Acids
  • Plant Growth Regulators
  • Amidohydrolases
  • fatty-acid amide hydrolase