In vivo gibberellin gradients visualized in rapidly elongating tissues

03 Nov 2017

The phytohormone gibberellin (GA) is a key regulator of plant growth and development. Although the upstream regulation and downstream responses to GA vary across cells and tissues, developmental stages and environmental conditions, the spatiotemporal distribution of GA in vivo remains unclear. Using a combinatorial screen in yeast, we engineered an optogenetic biosensor, GIBBERELLIN PERCEPTION SENSOR 1 (GPS1), that senses nanomolar levels of bioactive GAs. Arabidopsis thaliana plants expressing a nuclear localized GPS1 report on GAs at the cellular level. GA gradients were correlated with gradients of cell length in rapidly elongating roots and dark-grown hypocotyls. In roots, accumulation of exogenously applied GA also correlated with cell length, intimating that a root GA gradient can be established independently of GA biosynthesis. In hypocotyls, GA levels were reduced in a phytochrome interacting factor (pif) quadruple mutant in the dark and increased in a phytochrome double mutant in the light, indicating that PIFs elevate GA in the dark and that phytochrome inhibition of PIFs could lower GA in the light. As GA signalling directs hypocotyl elongation largely through promoting PIF activity, PIF promotion of GA accumulation represents a positive feedback loop within the molecular framework driving rapid hypocotyl growth.