The plant hormone auxin acts as a mediator providing positional instructions in a range of developmental processes. Studies in Arabidopsis thaliana L. show that auxin acts in large part via activation of Auxin Response Factors (ARFs) that in turn regulate the expression of downstream genes. The rice (Oryza sativa L.) gene OsARF11 is of interest because of its expression in developing rice organs and its high sequence similarity with MONOPTEROS/ARF5, a gene with prominent roles in A. thaliana development. We have assessed the phenotype of homozygous insertion mutants in the OsARF11 gene and found that in relation to wildtype, osarf11 seedlings produced fewer and shorter roots as well as shorter and less wide leaves. Leaves developed fewer veins and larger areoles. Mature osarf11 plants had a reduced root system, fewer branches per panicle, fewer grains per panicle and fewer filled seeds. Mutants had a reduced sensitivity to auxin-mediated callus formation and inhibition of root elongation, and phenylboronic acid (PBA)-mediated inhibition of vein formation. Taken together, our results implicate OsARF11 in auxin-mediated growth of multiple organs and leaf veins. OsARF11 also appears to play a central role in the formation of lateral root, panicle branch, and grain meristems.
Keywords: auxin perception; auxin response factor; auxin signaling; leaf expansion; meristem; rice fecundity; root elongation; seed development; vein patterning.