, Volume 219, Issue 4, pp 649–660 | Cite as

Pleiotropic effects of the male sterile33 (ms33) mutation in Arabidopsis are associated with modifications in endogenous gibberellins, indole-3-acetic acid and abscisic acid

  • Houman Fei
  • Ruichuan Zhang
  • Richard P. Pharis
  • Vipen K. Sawhney
Original Article


Earlier, we reported that mutation in the Male Sterile33 (MS33) locus in Arabidopsis thaliana causes inhibition of stamen filament growth and a defect in the maturation of pollen grains [Fei and Sawhney (1999) Physiol Plant 105:165–170; Fei and Sawhney (2001) Can J Bot 79:118–129]. Here we report that the ms33 mutant has other pleiotropic effects, including aberrant growth of all floral organs and a delay in seed germination and in flowering time. These defects could be partially or completely restored by low temperature or by exogenous gibberellin A4 (GA4), which in all cases was more effective than GA3 Analysis of endogenous GAs showed that in wild type (WT) mature flowers GA4 was the major GA, and that relative to WT the ms33 flowers had low levels of the growth active GAs, GA1 and GA4, and very reduced levels of GA9, GA24 and GA15, precursors of GA4. This suggests that mutation in the MS33 gene may suppress the GA biosynthetic pathway that leads to GA4 via GA9 and the early 13-H C20 GAs. WT flowers also possessed a much higher level of indole-3-acetic acid (IAA), and a lower level of abscisic acid (ABA), relative to ms33 flowers. Low temperature induced partial restoration of male fertility in the ms33 flowers and this was associated with partial increase in GA4. In contrast, in WT flowers GA1 and GA4 were very much reduced by low temperature. Low temperature also had little effect on IAA or ABA levels of ms33 flowers, but did reduce (>2-fold) IAA levels in WT flowers. The double mutants, ms33 aba1-1 (an ABA-deficient mutant), and ms33 spy-3 (a GA signal transduction mutant) had flower phenotypes similar to ms33. Together, the data suggest that the developmental defects in the ms33 mutant are unrelated to ABA levels, but may be causally associated with reduced levels of IAA, GA1 and GA4, compared to WT flowers.


Arabidopsis Gibberellin Indole-3-acetic acid Male sterility ms33 mutant Pleiotropy 



Abscisic acid




Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry-selected ion monitoring


Indole-3-acetic acid


Male sterile33 mutant




Wild type



The Authors thank Dr. B. Mulligan of University of Nottingham (UK) for kindly providing the ms33 seed, and Dr. L.N. Mander of the Australian National University for deuterated GAs. H. Fei acknowledges the support of a University of Saskatchewan Graduate scholarship during the course of this work. This research was supported by NSERC of Canada Discovery grants to V.K.S. and R.P.P.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Houman Fei
    • 1
    • 3
  • Ruichuan Zhang
    • 2
  • Richard P. Pharis
    • 2
  • Vipen K. Sawhney
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  3. 3.Plant Biotechnology InstituteSaskatoonCanada

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