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Drought-induced guard cell signal transduction involves sphingosine-1-phosphate

An Erratum to this article was published on 10 May 2001


Stomata form pores on leaf surfaces that regulate the uptake of CO2 for photosynthesis and the loss of water vapour during transpiration1. An increase in the cytosolic concentration of free calcium ions ([Ca2+]cyt) is a common intermediate in many of the pathways leading to either opening or closure of the stomatal pore2,3. This observation has prompted investigations into how specificity is controlled in calcium-based signalling systems in plants. One possible explanation is that each stimulus generates a unique increase in [Ca2+]cyt, or ‘calcium signature’, that dictates the outcome of the final response4. It has been suggested that the key to generating a calcium signature, and hence to understanding how specificity is controlled, is the ability to access differentially the cellular machinery controlling calcium influx and release from internal stores2,3,4,5 . Here we report that sphingosine-1-phosphate is a new calcium-mobilizing molecule in plants. We show that after drought treatment sphingosine-1-phosphate levels increase, and we present evidence that this molecule is involved in the signal-transduction pathway linking the perception of abscisic acid to reductions in guard cell turgor.

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Figure 1: Positive-ion LC/MS/MS product ion spectra of m/z 380 (M+H)+.
Figure 2: Effects of S1P and dihydro-S1P on stomatal aperture.
Figure 3: Effects of S1P and dihydro-S1P on guard cell [Ca2+]cyt, and kinetics of S1P-induced stomatal closure.
Figure 4: Effect of DHS on ABA-induced stomatal closure.


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This work was supported by a grant from the Westlakes Charitable Trust (Cumbria, UK). M.R.M. is grateful to The Royal Society for the award of a University Research Fellowship.

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Correspondence to Alistair M. Hetherington.

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Supplementary table 1: The effect of an 11 day drought treatment on the levels of sphingosine-1-phosphate in the leaves of C. communis.

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Ng, CY., Carr, K., McAinsh, M. et al. Drought-induced guard cell signal transduction involves sphingosine-1-phosphate. Nature 410, 596–599 (2001).

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