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Regulatory Roles of Cytokinins and Cytokinin Signaling in Response to Potassium Deficiency in Arabidopsis

Public Library of Science
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0047797
  • Research Article
  • Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Hormones
  • Developmental Biology
  • Plant Growth And Development
  • Ecology
  • Plant Ecology
  • Plant-Environment Interactions
  • Model Organisms
  • Plant And Algal Models
  • Arabidopsis Thaliana
  • Plant Science
  • Plant Physiology
  • Chemistry
  • Medicine


Potassium (K) is an important plant macronutrient that has various functions throughout the whole plant over its entire life span. Cytokinins (CKs) are known to regulate macronutrient homeostasis by controlling the expression of nitrate, phosphate and sulfate transporters. Although several studies have described how CKs signal deficiencies for some macronutrients, the roles of CKs in K signaling are poorly understood. CK content has been shown to decrease under K-starved conditions. Specifically, a CK-deficient mutant was more tolerant to low K than wild-type; however, a plant with an overaccumulation of CKs was more sensitive to low K. These results suggest that K deprivation alters CK metabolism, leading to a decrease in CK content. To investigate this phenomenon further, several Arabidopsis lines, including a CK-deficient mutant and CK receptor mutants, were analyzed in low K conditions using molecular, genetic and biochemical approaches. ROS accumulation and root hair growth in low K were also influenced by CKs. CK receptor mutants lost the responsiveness to K-deficient signaling, including ROS accumulation and root hair growth, but the CK-deficient mutant accumulated more ROS and exhibited up-regulated expression of HAK5, which is a high-affinity K uptake transporter gene that is rapidly induced by low K stress in ROS- and ethylene-dependent manner in response to low K. From these results, we conclude that a reduction in CK levels subsequently allows fast and effective stimulation of low K-induced ROS accumulation, root hair growth and HAK5 expression, leading to plant adaptation to low K conditions.

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