White lupin cluster roots are specialized brush-like root structures that are formed in some species under phosphorus (P)-deficient conditions. They intensely secrete protons and organic acid anions for solubilization and acquisition of sparingly soluble phosphates. Phytohormones and sucrose modulate cluster root number, but the molecular mechanisms of cluster root formation have been elusive. Here, a novel peptide phytohormone was identified that affects cluster root development. It belongs to the C-TERMINALLY-ENCODED PEPTIDE (CEP) family. Members of that family arrest root growth and modulate branching in model species. LaCEP1 was highly expressed in the pre-emergence zone of clusters. Over-expression of the gene encoding the LaCEP1 propeptide resulted in moderate inhibition of cluster root formation. The primary and lateral root lengths of lupin were little affected by the overexpression, but LaCEP1 reduced cluster rootlet and root hair elongation. Addition of a 15-mer core peptide derived from LaCEP1 similarly altered root morphology and modified cluster activity, suggesting that a core sequence of the propeptide is functionally sufficient. Stable overexpression in Arabidopsis confirmed the LaCEP1 function in root growth inhibition across species. Taken together, the root inhibitory effects of the LaCEP1 phytohormone suggest a role as of a regulatory module involved in cluster root development in white lupin.
© 2018 Scandinavian Plant Physiology Society.