Distinct Functions of Ethylene and ACC in the Basal Land Plant Marchantia polymorpha

Plant Cell Physiol. 2021 Oct 1;62(5):858-871. doi: 10.1093/pcp/pcab042.


Ethylene is a gaseous phytohormone involved in various physiological processes, including fruit ripening, senescence, root hair development and stress responses. Recent genomics studies have suggested that most homologous genes of ethylene biosynthesis and signaling are conserved from algae to angiosperms, whereas the function and biosynthesis of ethylene remain unknown in basal plants. Here, we examined the physiological effects of ethylene, an ethylene precursor, 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC) and an inhibitor of ethylene perception, silver thiosulfate (STS), in a basal land plant, Marchantia polymorpha. M. polymorpha plants biosynthesized ethylene, and treatment with high concentrations of ACC slightly promoted ethylene production. ACC remarkably suppressed the growth of thalli (vegetative organs) and rhizoids (root-hair-like cells), whereas exogenous ethylene slightly promoted thallus growth. STS suppressed thallus growth and induced ectopic rhizoid formation on the dorsal surface of thalli. Thus, ACC and ethylene have different effects on the vegetative growth of M. polymorpha. We generated single and double mutants of ACC synthase-like (ACSL) genes, MpACSL1 and MpACSL2. The mutants did not show obvious defects in thallus growth, ACC content and ethylene production, indicating that MpACSL genes are not essential for the vegetative growth and biosynthesis of ACC and ethylene. Gene expression analysis suggested the involvement of MpACSL1 and MpACSL2 in stress responses. Collectively, our results imply ethylene-independent function of ACC and the absence of ACC-mediated ethylene biosynthesis in M. polymorpha.

Keywords: 1-Aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid; ACC synthase-like; Ethylene • Marchantia polymorpha; Silver thiosulfate.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids, Cyclic / metabolism*
  • Amino Acids, Cyclic / pharmacology
  • Ethylenes / biosynthesis
  • Ethylenes / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / drug effects
  • Marchantia / drug effects
  • Marchantia / genetics
  • Marchantia / growth & development
  • Marchantia / metabolism*
  • Mutation
  • Organophosphorus Compounds / pharmacology
  • Plant Growth Regulators / pharmacology
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism
  • Thiosulfates / pharmacology


  • Amino Acids, Cyclic
  • Ethylenes
  • Organophosphorus Compounds
  • Plant Growth Regulators
  • Plant Proteins
  • Thiosulfates
  • silver thiosulfate
  • 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid
  • ethylene
  • ethephon