Arabidopsis cell expansion is controlled by a photothermal switch

Nat Commun. 2014 Sep 26;5:4848. doi: 10.1038/ncomms5848.


In Arabidopsis, the seedling hypocotyl has emerged as an exemplar model system to study light and temperature control of cell expansion. Light sensitivity of this organ is epitomized in the fluence rate response where suppression of hypocotyl elongation increases incrementally with light intensity. This finely calibrated response is controlled by the photoreceptor, phytochrome B, through the deactivation and proteolytic destruction of phytochrome-interacting factors (PIFs). Here we show that this classical light response is strictly temperature dependent: a shift in temperature induces a dramatic reversal of response from inhibition to promotion of hypocotyl elongation by light. Applying an integrated experimental and mathematical modelling approach, we show how light and temperature coaction in the circuitry drives a molecular switch in PIF activity and control of cell expansion. This work provides a paradigm to understand the importance of signal convergence in evoking different or non-intuitive alterations in molecular signalling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / growth & development*
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism
  • Arabidopsis / radiation effects*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / radiation effects
  • Hypocotyl / growth & development
  • Hypocotyl / metabolism
  • Hypocotyl / radiation effects
  • Light
  • Phytochrome B / genetics
  • Phytochrome B / metabolism
  • Temperature


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Phytochrome B