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EARLY STARVATION 1 Is a Functionally Conserved Protein Promoting Gravitropic Responses in Plants by Forming Starch Granules

Kijong Song, Dae-Woo Lee, Jeongheon Kim, Jaewook Kim, Hwanuk Guim, Keunhwa Kim, ,
Published: 23 July 2021

Abstract: Starch granules in the endodermis of plant hypocotyls act as statoliths that promote hypocotyl negative gravitropism—the directional growth of hypocotyls against gravity—in the dark. To identify the molecular components that regulate hypocotyl negative gravitropism, we performed a mutagenesis screen and isolated reduced gravitropic 1 (rgv1) mutants that lack starch granules in their hypocotyl endodermis and show reduced hypocotyl negative gravitropism in the dark. Using whole genome sequencing, we identified three different rgv1 mutants that are allelic to the previously reported early starvation 1 mutant, which is rapidly depleted of starch just before the dawn. ESV1 orthologs are present in starch-producing green organisms, suggesting ESV1 is a functionally conserved protein necessary for the formation of starch granules. Consistent with this, we found that liverwort and rice ESV1 can complement the Arabidopsis ESV1 mutant phenotype for both starch granules and hypocotyl negative gravitropism. To further investigate the function of ESV1 in other plants, we isolated rice ESV1 mutants and found that they show reduced levels of starch in their leaves and loosely packed starch granules in their grains. Both Arabidopsis and rice ESV1 mutants also lack starch granules in root columella and show reduced root gravitropism. Together, these results indicate ESV1 is a functionally conserved protein that promotes gravitropic responses in plants via its role in starch granule formation.
Keywords: Arabidopsis / Gravitropism / Liverwort / rice / Starch

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