Polar auxin transport: an early invention

J Exp Bot. 2012 Jun;63(11):4213-8. doi: 10.1093/jxb/ers106. Epub 2012 Apr 2.


In higher plants, cell-to-cell polar auxin transport (PAT) of the phytohormone auxin, indole-3-acetic acid (IAA), generates maxima and minima that direct growth and development. Although IAA is present in all plant phyla, PAT has only been detected in land plants, the earliest being the Bryophytes. Charophyta, a group of freshwater green algae, are among the first multicellular algae with a land plant-like phenotype and are ancestors to land plants. IAA has been detected in members of Charophyta, but its developmental role and the occurrence of PAT are unknown. We show that naphthylphthalamic acid (NPA)-sensitive PAT occurs in internodal cells of Chara corallina. The relatively high velocity (at least 4-5 cm/h) of auxin transport through the giant (3-5 cm) Chara cells does not occur by simple diffusion and is not sensitive to a specific cytoplasmic streaming inhibitor. The results demonstrate that PAT evolved early in multicellular plant life. The giant Chara cells provide a unique new model system to study PAT, as Chara allows the combining of real-time measurements and mathematical modelling with molecular, developmental, cellular, and electrophysiological studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biological Transport
  • Chara / metabolism*
  • Chlorophyta / metabolism*
  • Indoleacetic Acids / metabolism*
  • Plant Growth Regulators / metabolism*


  • Indoleacetic Acids
  • Plant Growth Regulators