Ethylene in vegetative development: a tale with a riddle

New Phytol. 2012 Jun;194(4):895-909. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2012.04100.x. Epub 2012 Mar 9.


The vegetative development of plants is strongly dependent on the action of phytohormones. For over a century, the effects of ethylene on plants have been studied, illustrating the profound impact of this gaseous hormone on plant growth, development and stress responses. Ethylene signaling is under tight self-control at various levels. Feedback regulation occurs on both biosynthesis and signaling. For its role in developmental processes, ethylene has a close and reciprocal relation with auxin, another major determinant of plant architecture. Here, we discuss, in view of novel findings mainly in the reference plant Arabidopsis, how ethylene is distributed and perceived throughout the plant at the organ, tissue and cellular levels, and reflect on how plants benefit from the complex interaction of ethylene and auxin, determining their shape. Furthermore, we elaborate on the implications of recent discoveries on the control of ethylene signaling.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / physiology*
  • Ethylenes / metabolism*
  • Feedback, Physiological
  • Indoleacetic Acids / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction*


  • Ethylenes
  • Indoleacetic Acids
  • ethylene