Auxin regulates source-sink carbohydrate partitioning and reproductive organ development in rice

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2022 Sep 6;119(36):e2121671119. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2121671119. Epub 2022 Aug 29.


Carbohydrate partitioning between the source and sink tissues plays an important role in regulating plant growth and development. However, the molecular mechanisms regulating this process remain poorly understood. In this study, we show that elevated auxin levels in the rice dao mutant cause increased accumulation of sucrose in the photosynthetic leaves but reduced sucrose content in the reproductive organs (particularly in the lodicules, anthers, and ovaries), leading to closed spikelets, indehiscent anthers, and parthenocarpic seeds. RNA sequencing analysis revealed that the expression of AUXIN RESPONSE FACTOR 18 (OsARF18) and OsARF2 is significantly up- and down-regulated, respectively, in the lodicule of dao mutant. Overexpression of OsARF18 or knocking out of OsARF2 phenocopies the dao mutant. We demonstrate that OsARF2 regulates the expression of OsSUT1 through direct binding to the sugar-responsive elements (SuREs) in the OsSUT1 promoter and that OsARF18 represses the expression of OsARF2 and OsSUT1 via direct binding to the auxin-responsive element (AuxRE) or SuRE in their promoters, respectively. Furthermore, overexpression of OsSUT1 in the dao and Osarf2 mutant backgrounds could largely rescue the spikelets' opening and seed-setting defects. Collectively, our results reveal an auxin signaling cascade regulating source-sink carbohydrate partitioning and reproductive organ development in rice.

Keywords: auxin; carbohydrate partitioning; reproductive organ; rice; source-sink.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carbohydrate Metabolism*
  • Flowers* / growth & development
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Gene Knockout Techniques
  • Indoleacetic Acids* / metabolism
  • Mutation
  • Oryza* / growth & development
  • Oryza* / metabolism
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism
  • Sucrose / metabolism


  • Indoleacetic Acids
  • Plant Proteins
  • Sucrose