Aberrant temporal growth pattern and morphology of root and shoot caused by a defective circadian clock in Arabidopsis thaliana

Plant J. 2012 Oct;72(1):154-61. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-313X.2012.05073.x. Epub 2012 Jul 24.


Circadian clocks synchronized with the environment allow plants to anticipate recurring daily changes and give a fitness advantage. Here, we mapped the dynamic growth phenotype of leaves and roots in two lines of Arabidopsis thaliana with a disrupted circadian clock: the CCA1 over-expressing line (CCA1ox) and the prr9 prr7 prr5 (prr975) mutant. We demonstrate leaf growth defects due to a disrupted circadian clock over a 24 h time scale. Both lines showed enhanced leaf growth compared with the wild-type during the diurnal period, suggesting increased partitioning of photosynthates for leaf growth. Nocturnal leaf growth was reduced and growth inhibition occurred by dawn, which may be explained by ineffective starch degradation in the leaves of the mutants. However, this growth inhibition was not caused by starch exhaustion. Overall, these results are consistent with the notion that the defective clock affects carbon and energy allocation, thereby reducing growth capacity during the night. Furthermore, rosette morphology and size as well as root architecture were strikingly altered by the defective clock control. Separate analysis of the primary root and lateral roots revealed strong suppression of lateral root formation in both CCA1ox and prr975, accompanied by unusual changes in lateral root growth direction under light-dark cycles and increased lateral extension of the root system. We conclude that growth of the whole plant is severely affected by improper clock regulation in A. thaliana, resulting not only in altered timing and capacity for growth but also aberrant development of shoot and root architecture.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / anatomy & histology
  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / growth & development
  • Arabidopsis / physiology*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism*
  • Circadian Clocks / physiology*
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Mutation
  • Phenotype
  • Photoperiod
  • Plant Leaves / anatomy & histology
  • Plant Leaves / genetics
  • Plant Leaves / growth & development
  • Plant Leaves / physiology
  • Plant Roots / anatomy & histology
  • Plant Roots / genetics
  • Plant Roots / growth & development*
  • Plant Roots / physiology
  • Plant Shoots / anatomy & histology
  • Plant Shoots / genetics
  • Plant Shoots / growth & development*
  • Plant Shoots / physiology
  • Starch / analysis
  • Starch / metabolism
  • Time Factors
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • CCA1 protein, Arabidopsis
  • Transcription Factors
  • Starch