Rapid, organ-specific transcriptional responses to light regulate photomorphogenic development in dicot seedlings

Ying Li, Kankshita Swaminathan, Matthew E. Hudson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The dicotyledon seedling undergoes organ-specific photomorphogenic development when exposed to light. The cotyledons open and expand, the apical hook opens, and the hypocotyl ceases to elongate. Using the large and easily dissected seedlings of soybean (Glycine max 'Williams 82'), we show that genes involved in photosynthesis and its regulation dominate transcripts specific to the cotyledon, even in etiolated seedlings. Genes for cell wall biosynthesis and metabolism are expressed at higher levels in the hypocotyl, while examination of genes expressed at higher levels in the hook region (including the shoot apical meristem) reveals genes involved in cell division and protein turnover. The early transcriptional events in these three organs in response to a 1-h treatment of far-red light are highly distinctive. Not only are different regulatory genes rapidly regulated by light in each organ, but the early-responsive genes in each organ contain a distinctive subset of known light-responsive cisregulatory elements. We detected specific light-induced gene expression for the root phototropism gene RPT2 in the apical hook and also phenotypes in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) rpt2 mutants demonstrating that the gene is necessary for normal photomorphogenesis in the seedling apex. Significantly, expression of the RPT2 promoter fused to a b-glucuronidase reporter gene shows differential expression across the hook region. We conclude that organ-specific, light-responsive transcriptional networks are active early in photomorphogenesis in the aerial parts of dicotyledon seedlings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2124-2140
Number of pages17
JournalPlant physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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