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Gibberellins play an essential role in late embryogenesis of Arabidopsis

Nature Plantsvolume 4pages289298 (2018) | Download Citation


The plant hormone gibberellin plays key roles in almost all aspects of plant development, but its detailed function and underlying regulatory mechanism in embryo development are not yet clearly defined. Here, we illustrate an essential role of gibberellin in late embryogenesis of Arabidopsis. Bioactive gibberellins are highly biosynthesized during the late developmental stage of embryos. At that time, deficiency in gibberellin biosynthesis or signalling results in an abnormal embryo phenotype characterized by less-developed cotyledons and shortened embryo axis. In contrast, gibberellin overdose leads to a significantly larger size of mature embryo. We reveal that the gibberellin signalling repressor DELLA interact with LEAFY COTYLEDON1 (LEC1), the key regulator in late embryogenesis. Gibberellin triggers the degradation of DELLAs to relieve their repression of LEC1, thus promoting auxin accumulation to facilitate embryo development. Therefore, we uncover a space/time-specific role of gibberellin in regulating late embryogenesis through the gibberellin–DELLA–LEC1 signalling cascade, providing a novel mechanistic understanding of how phytohormones regulate embryogenesis.

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We thank T.-P. Sun for providing ga3ox1/4 and ga3ox1/3/4 seeds and Y. Zhao for pYUC4:GUS seeds. This work was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31670319) and the Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province (2017A030313211).

Author information


  1. Key Laboratory of South China Agricultural Plant Molecular Analysis and Genetic Improvement & Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Applied Botany, South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou, China

    • Yilong Hu
    • , Limeng Zhou
    • , Mingkun Huang
    • , Xuemei He
    • , Yuhua Yang
    • , Xu Liu
    • , Yuge Li
    •  & Xingliang Hou
  2. University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

    • Yilong Hu
    • , Limeng Zhou
    • , Xuemei He
    •  & Yuhua Yang


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Y.H. and X.L.H. conceived and designed the project. Y.H., L.Z., M.H. and Y.Y. conducted the experiments. Y.H., X.L.H., X.L., Y.L. and X.M.H. analysed the data. Y.H. and X.L.H. wrote the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Xingliang Hou.

Supplementary information

  1. Supplementary Information

    Supplementary Figures 1–15 and Supplementary Table 1.

  2. Reporting Summary

  3. Supplementary Table 2

    List of DELLA–LEC1 coregulated genes identified by RNA-seq.

  4. Supplementary Table 3

    LEC1 binding peaks and associated genes list of ChIP-seq and LEC1–DELLA targeted genes list.

  5. Supplementary Table 4

    List of primers used in this study.

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