J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 2020, Vol. 62 ›› Issue (10): 1625-1637.DOI: 10.1111/jipb.12927

Special Issue: Hormone signaling

• Molecular Physiology • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Phytohormone dynamics in developing endosperm influence rice grain shape and quality

Xiao-Fan Zhang1, Jian-Hua Tong2, Ai-Ning Bai3, Chun-Ming Liu3,4, Lang-Tao Xiao2 and Hong-Wei Xue5,6,*   

  1. 1School of Life Science and Technology, Shanghai Tech University, Shanghai 201210, China
    2Hunan Provincial Key Laboratory of Phytohormones and Growth Development, Hunan Agricultural University, Changsha 410128, China
    3Key Laboratory of Plant Molecular Physiology, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093, China
    4Institute of Crop Sciences, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing 100081, China
    5Joint Center for Single Cell Biology / School of Agriculture and Biology, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 200240, China
    6National Key Laboratory of Plant Molecular Genetics, CAS Center for Excellence in Molecular Plant Sciences, Shanghai Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai 200032, China

    Email: Hong-Wei Xue (hwxue@sjtu.edu.cn)
  • Received:2020-01-12 Accepted:2020-03-19 Online:2020-03-21 Published:2020-10-01


Hormones are important signaling molecules regulating developmental processes and responses to environmental stimuli in higher plants. Rice endosperm, the portion of the seed surrounding the embryo, is the main determinant of rice grain shape and yield; however, the dynamics and exact functions of phytohormones in developing endosperm remain elusive. Through a systemic study including transcriptome analysis, hormone measurement, and transgene‐based endosperm‐specific expression of phytohormone biosynthetic enzymes, we demonstrated that dynamic phytohormone levels play crucial roles in the developing rice endosperm, particularly in regard to grain shape and quality. We detected diverse, differential, and dramatically changing expression patterns of genes related to hormone biosynthesis and signaling during endosperm development, especially at early developmental stages. Liquid chromatography measurements confirmed the dynamic accumulation of hormones in developing endosperm. Further transgenic analysis performed on plants expressing hormone biosynthesis genes driven by an endosperm‐specific promoter revealed differential effects of the hormones, especially auxin and brassinosteroids, in regulating grain shape and quality. Our studies help elucidate the distinct roles of hormones in developing endosperm and provide novel and useful tools for influencing crop seed shape and yield.

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