Re-Evaluation of the Role of Starch in Gravitropic Sensing
- Sack, Fred D.
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- Plant organs grow toward or away from gravity as a way to orient those organs for optimizing growth. Starch has long been thought to be important in sensing the direction of the g-vector in gravitropism, but that hypothesis has also evoked controversy. We have previously shown that starch-deficient mutants of Arabidopsis (TC7) and Nicotiana (NS458) are impaired in their gravitropism. While this suggests that starch is not necessary for reduced gravitropism, it also indicates that the mass of the starch contributes to sensing when present and thus is necessary for full gravitropic sensitivity. The research supported by this grant focused on three related projects, (1) the effect of light on hypocotyl gravitropism in NS458, (2) the effects of root phototropism on measurements of gravitropic sensitivity, and (3) the effects of starch overproduction on sedimentation and gravitropism. Collectively, our results provide additional strong support for the importance of starch in gravitropic sensing. First, by accounting for negative phototropism in roots of two starchless mutants of Arabidopsis we have established that these mutants are much less sensitive to gravity than previously thought. This work also demonstrates the importance of designing experimental protocols that remove the influence of root phototropism on measuring root gravitropism. Second, light apparently promotes gravitropism in starch-deficient Nicotiana hypocotyls by increasing the trace amounts of starch in the plastids, by inducing limited plastid sedimentation and thus by presumably increasing the signal provided by plastid mass. And finally, we show that excess starch in Arabidopsis seedlings has little effect on gravitropic sensitivity implying that the sensing system is already saturated. However, in light-grown stems where this mutation results in starch accumulation and where the wild-type practically lacks starch in the sensing cells, the mutant is much more sensitive than the wild-type again showing that the loss of starch depresses gravity sensing.
- NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) Collection.
- Document ID: 19990026877.
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