Response of the Circadian Clock and Diel Starch Turnover to One Day of Low Light or Low CO2

Plant Physiol. 2019 Apr;179(4):1457-1478. doi: 10.1104/pp.18.01418. Epub 2019 Jan 22.


Diel starch turnover responds rapidly to changes in the light regime. We investigated if these responses require changes in the temporal dynamics of the circadian clock. Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) was grown in a 12-h photoperiod for 19 d, shifted to three different reduced light levels or to low CO2 for one light period, and returned to growth conditions. The treatments produced widespread changes in clock transcript abundance. However, almost all of the changes were restricted to extreme treatments that led to carbon starvation and were small compared to the magnitude of the circadian oscillation. Changes included repression of EARLY FLOWERNG 4, slower decay of dusk components, and a slight phase delay at the next dawn, possibly due to abrogated Evening Complex function and sustained expression of PHYTOCHROME INTERACTING FACTORs and REVEILLEs during the night. Mobilization of starch in the night occurred in a linear manner and was paced to dawn, both in moderate treatments that did not alter clock transcripts and in extreme treatments that led to severe carbon starvation. We conclude that pacing of starch mobilization to dawn does not require retrograde carbon signaling to the transcriptional clock. On the following day, growth decreased, sugars rose, and starch accumulation was stimulated in low-light-treated plants compared to controls. This adaptive response was marked after moderate treatments and occurred independently of changes in the transcriptional clock. It is probably a time-delayed response to low-C signaling in the preceding 24-h cycle, possibly including changes in PHYTOCHROME INTERACTING FACTOR and REVEILLE expression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / growth & development
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism
  • Arabidopsis / radiation effects*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Carbon Dioxide / metabolism*
  • Circadian Clocks*
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Light
  • Starch / metabolism*
  • Starch Synthase / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • PIF4 protein, Arabidopsis
  • REVEILLE 8, protein Arabidopsis
  • Transcription Factors
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Starch
  • Starch Synthase