• Geetika Kalra
  • Satish C Bhatla


Cytokinins (CK) are a class of plant growth substances which promote cell division. The first cytokinin was discovered from Herring (an oily fish from genus Clupea) sperm DNA by Miller et al. in 1955. In the 1940s and 1950s, Skoog and his coinvestigators tested many substances for their ability to initiate and sustain proliferation of cultured tobacco pith tissue. They observed stimulation of cell division when cultured pith tissue was treated with autoclaved Herring sperm DNA. This indicated that DNA degradation product caused stimulation of cell division in tobacco pith culture. This compound was identified as kinetin since it caused cytokinesis (Fig. 16.1). It is now characterized as 6-furfurylaminopurine. Although kinetin is a natural compound, it is not synthesized in plants. It is, therefore, considered a “synthetic cytokinin” with reference to plants. Subsequently, immature endosperm from corn (Zea mays) was found to contain a substance with biological activity similar to kinetin. This substance stimulates mature plant cells to divide when added to a culture medium along with auxin. The active ingredient was later identified as zeatin [trans-6-(4-hydroxy-3-methyl-2-butenylamino) purine]. Zeatin was also the first natural cytokinin reported from unripe maize kernels by Miller and Letham in 1963. Zeatin can exist in cis or trans configuration. These forms can be interconverted by an enzyme known as zeatin isomerase. The trans form is biologically more active, although cis form has been found in high levels in a number of plant species. Cytokinins can be present in plants as ribosides (in which ribose sugar is attached to the 9 nitrogen of the purine ring), ribotides (in which the ribose sugar moiety contains a phosphate group), or a glycosides (in which a sugar molecule is attached to 3, 7, or 9 nitrogen of the purine ring).


Adenine Benzyladenine Cell division Thidiazuron Zeatin 

Suggested Further Readings

  1. Feng J, Shi Y, Yang S, Zuo J (2017) Cytokinins. In: Li J, Li C, Smith SM (eds) Hormone metabolism and signaling in plants. Academic Press, San Diego, pp 77–106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Kamínek M (2015) Tracking the story of cytokinin research. J Plant Growth Regul 34:723–739CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Osugi A, Sakakibara H (2015) Q&A: how do plants respond to cytokinins and what is their importance? BMC Biol 13:102CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Geetika Kalra
    • 1
  • Satish C Bhatla
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BotanyUniversity of DelhiNew DelhiIndia

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