Signaling in plants

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Apr 1;94(7):2793-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.94.7.2793.


Higher plants are sessile organisms that perceive environmental cues such as light and chemical signals and respond by changing their morphologies. Signaling pathways utilize a complex network of interactions to orchestrate biochemical and physiological responses such as flowering, fruit ripening, germination, photosynthetic regulation, and shoot or root development. In this session, the mechanisms of signaling systems that trigger plant responses to light and to the gaseous hormone, ethylene, were discussed. These signals are first sensed by a receptor and transmitted to the nucleus by a complex network. A signal may be transmitted to the nucleus by any of several systems including GTP binding proteins (G proteins), which change activity upon GTP binding; protein kinase cascades, which sequentially phosphorylate and activate a series of proteins; and membrane ion channels, which change ionic characteristics of the cells. The signal is manifested in the nucleus as a change in the activity of DNA-binding proteins, which are transcription factors that specifically interact and modulate the regulatory regions of genes. Thus, detection of an environmental signal is transmitted through a transduction pathway, and changes in transcription factor activity may coordinate changes in the expression of a portfolio of genes to direct new developmental programs.

Publication types

  • Congress

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism*
  • Arabidopsis / radiation effects
  • Ethylenes
  • Light
  • Signal Transduction*


  • Ethylenes
  • ethylene