Knockdown of Succinate Dehydrogenase Assembly Factor 2 Induces Reactive Oxygen Species-Mediated Auxin Hypersensitivity Causing pH-Dependent Root Elongation

Plant Cell Physiol. 2021 Oct 29;62(7):1185-1198. doi: 10.1093/pcp/pcab061.


Metabolism, auxin signaling and reactive oxygen species (ROS) all contribute to plant growth, and each is linked to plant mitochondria and the process of respiration. Knockdown of mitochondrial succinate dehydrogenase assembly factor 2 (SDHAF2) in Arabidopsis thaliana lowered succinate dehydrogenase activity and led to pH-inducible root inhibition when the growth medium pH was poised at different points between 7.0 and 5.0, but this phenomenon was not observed in wildtype (WT). Roots of sdhaf2 mutants showed high accumulation of succinate, depletion of citrate and malate and up-regulation of ROS-related and stress-inducible genes at pH 5.5. A change of oxidative status in sdhaf2 roots at low pH was also evidenced by low ROS staining in root tips and altered root sensitivity to H2O2. sdhaf2 had low auxin activity in root tips via DR5-GUS staining but displayed increased indole-3-acetic acid (IAA, auxin) abundance and IAA hypersensitivity, which is most likely caused by the change in ROS levels. On this basis, we conclude that knockdown of SDHAF2 induces pH-related root elongation and auxin hyperaccumulation and hypersensitivity, mediated by altered ROS homeostasis. This observation extends the existing evidence of associations between mitochondrial function and auxin by establishing a cascade of cellular events that link them through ROS formation, metabolism and root growth at different pH values.

Keywords: Auxin; Mitochondrial metabolism; Oxidative stress; Reactive oxygen species; Root elongation; Soil acidification.

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / growth & development
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism*
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / metabolism
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Indoleacetic Acids / metabolism*
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Molecular Chaperones / metabolism*
  • Plant Growth Regulators / metabolism*
  • Plant Roots / growth & development*
  • Plant Roots / metabolism
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism*


  • AT5G51040 protein, Arabidopsis
  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Indoleacetic Acids
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • Molecular Chaperones
  • Plant Growth Regulators
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Hydrogen Peroxide