The Pivotal Role of Ethylene in Plant Growth

Trends Plant Sci. 2018 Apr;23(4):311-323. doi: 10.1016/j.tplants.2018.01.003. Epub 2018 Feb 7.


Being continuously exposed to variable environmental conditions, plants produce phytohormones to react quickly and specifically to these changes. The phytohormone ethylene is produced in response to multiple stresses. While the role of ethylene in defense responses to pathogens is widely recognized, recent studies in arabidopsis and crop species highlight an emerging key role for ethylene in the regulation of organ growth and yield under abiotic stress. Molecular connections between ethylene and growth-regulatory pathways have been uncovered, and altering the expression of ethylene response factors (ERFs) provides a new strategy for targeted ethylene-response engineering. Crops with optimized ethylene responses show improved growth in the field, opening new windows for future crop improvement. This review focuses on how ethylene regulates shoot growth, with an emphasis on leaves.

Keywords: ethylene response factors; ethylene signaling; growth regulation; leaf growth; stress response.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Ethylenes / metabolism*
  • Plant Development*
  • Plant Growth Regulators / physiology*
  • Plant Leaves / growth & development


  • Ethylenes
  • Plant Growth Regulators
  • ethylene