Maize (Zea mays) stem gravitropism involves differential elongation of cells within a highly specialized region, the stem internodal pulvinus. In the present study, we investigated factors that control gravitropic responses in this system. In the graviresponding pulvinus, hexose sugars (D-Glc and D-Fru) accumulated asymmetrically across the pulvinus. This correlated well with an asymmetric increase in acid invertase activity across the pulvinus. Northern analyses revealed asymmetric induction of one maize acid invertase gene, Ivr2, consistent with transcriptional regulation by gravistimulation. Several lines of evidence indicated that auxin redistribution, as a result of polar auxin transport, is necessary for gravity-stimulated Ivr2 transcript accumulation and differential cell elongation across the maize pulvinus. First, the auxin transport inhibitor, N-1-naphthylphthalamic acid, inhibited gravistimulated curvature and Ivr2 transcript accumulation. Second, a transient gradient of free indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) across the pulvinus was apparent shortly after initiation of gravistimulation. This temporarily free IAA gradient appears to be important for differential cell elongation and Ivr2 transcript accumulation. This is based on the observation that N-1-naphthylphthalamic acid will not inhibit gravitropic responses when applied to pulvinus tissue after the free IAA gradient peak has occurred. Third, IAA alone can stimulate Ivr2 transcript accumulation in non-gravistimulated pulvini. The gravity- and IAA-stimulated increase in Ivr2 transcripts was sensitive to the protein synthesis inhibitor, cycloheximide. Based on these results, a two-phase model describing possible relationships between gravitropic curvature, IAA redistribution, and Ivr2 expression is presented.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Plant Science