Plants are sessile and photo-autotrophic; their entire life cycle is thus strongly influenced by the ever-changing light environment. In order to sense and respond to those fluctuating conditions higher plants possess several families of photoreceptors that can monitor light from UV-B to the near infrared (far-red). The molecular nature of UV-B sensors remains unknown, red (R) and far-red (FR) light is sensed by the phytochromes (phyA-phyE in Arabidopsis) while three classes of UV-A/blue photoreceptors have been identified: cryptochromes, phototropins, and members of the Zeitlupe family (cry1, cry2, phot1, phot2, ZTL, FKF1, and LKP2 in Arabidopsis). Functional specialization within photoreceptor families gave rise to members optimized for a wide range of light intensities. Genetic and photobiological studies performed in Arabidopsis have shown that these light sensors mediate numerous adaptive responses (e.g., phototropism and shade avoidance) and developmental transitions (e.g., germination and flowering). Some physiological responses are specifically triggered by a single photoreceptor but in many cases multiple light sensors ensure a coordinated response. Recent studies also provide examples of crosstalk between the responses of Arabidopsis to different external factors, in particular among light, temperature, and pathogens. Although the different photoreceptors are unrelated in structure, in many cases they trigger similar signaling mechanisms including light-regulated protein-protein interactions or light-regulated stability of several transcription factors. The breath and complexity of this topic forced us to concentrate on specific aspects of photomorphogenesis and we point the readers to recent reviews for some aspects of light-mediated signaling (e.g., transition to flowering).
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