Light control of plant development

Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 1997;13:203-29. doi: 10.1146/annurev.cellbio.13.1.203.


To grow and develop optimally, all organisms need to perceive and process information from both their biotic and abiotic surroundings. A particularly important environmental cue is light, to which organisms respond in many different ways. Because they are photosynthetic and non-motile, plants need to be especially plastic in response to their light environment. The diverse responses of plants to light require sophisticated sensing of its intensity, direction, duration, and wavelength. The action spectra of light responses provided assays to identify three photoreceptor systems absorbing in the red/far-red, blue/near-ultraviolet, and ultraviolet spectral ranges. Following absorption of light, photoreceptors interact with other signal transduction elements, which eventually leads to many molecular and morphological responses. While a complete signal transduction cascade is not known yet, molecular genetic studies using the model plant Arabidopsis have led to substantial progress in dissecting the signal transduction network. Important gains have been made in determining the function of the photoreceptors, the terminal response pathways, and the intervening signal transduction components.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cryptochromes
  • Drosophila Proteins*
  • Eye Proteins*
  • Flavoproteins / physiology
  • Light*
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Invertebrate*
  • Phytochrome / chemistry
  • Phytochrome / physiology
  • Plant Development*
  • Plant Proteins / physiology
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Signal Transduction


  • Cryptochromes
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Eye Proteins
  • Flavoproteins
  • Plant Proteins
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • cry protein, Drosophila
  • Phytochrome