J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 2020, Vol. 62 ›› Issue (9): 1341-1351.DOI: 10.1111/jipb.12880

Special Issue: Light signaling

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

ZEITLUPE is required for shade avoidance in the wild tobacco Nicotiana attenuata

Yong Zou1, Ran Li1,2 and Ian T. Baldwin1*   

  1. 1Department of Molecular Ecology, Max‐Planck‐Institute for Chemical Ecology, Jena 07745, Germany
    2Institute of Insect Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310058, China

    Email: Ian T. Baldwin (baldwin@ice.mpg.de)
  • Received:2019-08-19 Accepted:2019-10-18 Online:2019-10-19 Published:2020-09-01


Being shaded is a common environmental stress for plants, especially for densely planted crops. Shade decreases red: far‐red (R:FR) ratios that inactivate phytochrome B (PHYB) and subsequently release p̱hytochrome i̱nteraction f̱actors (PIFs). Shaded plants display elongated hypocotyls, internodes, and petioles, hyponastic leaves, early flowering and are inhibited in branching: traits collectively called the shade avoidance syndrome (SAS). ZEITLUPE (ZTL) is a circadian clock component and blue light photoreceptor, which is also involved in floral rhythms and plant defense in Nicotiana attenuata. ztl mutants are hypersensitive to red light and ZTL physically interacts with PHYB, suggesting the involvement of ZTL in R:FR light signaling. Here, we show that N. attenuata ZTL‐silenced plants display a phenotype opposite to that of the SAS under normal light. After simulated shade, the normally induced transcript levels of the SAS marker gene, ATHB2 are attenuated in ZTL‐silenced plants. The auxin signaling pathway, known to be involved in SAS, was also significantly attenuated. Furthermore, NaZTL directly interacts with NaPHYBs, and regulates the transcript levels of PHYBs, PIF3a, PIF7 and PIF8 under shade. Our results suggest that ZTL may regulate PHYB‐ and the auxin‐mediated signaling pathway, which functions in the SAS of N. attenuata.

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