The Plant cell

Ethylene mediates response and tolerance to potassium deprivation in Arabidopsis.

PMID 19190240


Potassium deprivation leads to large reductions in plant growth and yields. How plants sense and transduce the stress signals initiated by potassium deprivation is poorly understood. Both ethylene production and the transcription of genes involved in ethylene biosynthesis increase when plants are deprived of potassium. To elucidate the role of ethylene in low potassium signaling pathways, we used both genetic and chemical approaches. Our results showed that ethylene is important in tolerance to low potassium and for changes in both root hair and primary root growth in Arabidopsis thaliana. We show that ethylene acts upstream of reactive oxygen species in response to potassium deprivation. The expression of High-Affinity K(+) Transporter5 was used as a marker of potassium deprivation and was found to be dependent on ethylene signaling. In the ethylene insensitive2-1 (ein2-1) mutant, the ethylene-mediated low potassium responses were not completely eliminated, suggesting that some potassium deprivation-induced responses are either ethylene independent or EIN2 independent. Ethylene signaling is a component of the plant's response to low potassium that stimulates the production of reactive oxygen species and is important for changes in root morphology and whole plant tolerance to low potassium conditions.