, Volume 225, Issue 3, pp 681-691
Date: 31 Aug 2006

α-Tocopherol may influence cellular signaling by modulating jasmonic acid levels in plants

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Most studies on the function of tocopherols in plants have focused on their photo-protective and antioxidant properties, and it has been recently suggested, though not yet demonstrated, that they may also play a role in cellular signaling. By using vte1 mutants of Arabidopsis thaliana, with an insertion in the promoter region of the gene encoding tocopherol cyclase, we demonstrate here for the first time that tocopherol deficiency may alter endogenous phytohormone levels in plants, thereby reducing plant growth and triggering anthocyanin accumulation in leaves. In plants grown under a combination of high light and low temperature conditions to induce anthocyanin accumulation, we evaluated age-dependent changes in tocopherols, indicators of photo-oxidative stress, phytohormone levels, plant growth and anthocyanin levels in wild type and vte1 mutants. These mutants showed lower tocopherol levels, reduced growth and enhanced anthocyanin accumulation compared with the wild type, while both the maximum and relative efficiencies of PSII, chlorophylls, and carotenoids were not significantly altered. Analyses of phytohormone levels revealed that reduced growth and enhanced anthocyanin accumulation in tocopherol-deficient plants were preceded by increased jasmonic acid levels. This is the first study suggesting a direct effect of tocopherols on phytohormones levels in plants and will undoubtedly help us to better understand the multiple functions tocopherols play in plants, as well as the cellular signaling mechanisms responsible for the phenotypes thus far described in tocopherol-deficient plants.