Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Elevated auxin biosynthesis and transport underlie high vein density in C4 leaves.

PMID 28761000


High vein density, a distinctive trait of C4 leaves, is central to both C3-to-C4 evolution and conversion of C3 to C4-like crops. We tested the hypothesis that high vein density in C4 leaves is due to elevated auxin biosynthesis and transport in developing leaves. Up-regulation of genes in auxin biosynthesis pathways and higher auxin content were found in developing C4 leaves compared with developing C3 leaves. The same observation held for maize foliar (C4) and husk (C3) leaf primordia. Moreover, auxin content and vein density were increased in loss-of-function mutants of Arabidopsis MYC2, a suppressor of auxin biosynthesis. Treatment with an auxin biosynthesis inhibitor or an auxin transport inhibitor led to much fewer veins in new leaves. Finally, both Arabidopsis thaliana auxin efflux transporter pin1 and influx transporter lax2 mutants showed reduced vein numbers. Thus, development of high leaf vein density requires elevated auxin biosynthesis and transport.