Biosensors for phytohormone quantification: challenges, solutions, and opportunities

Darren M. Wells, Laurent Laplaze, Malcolm J. Bennett & Teva Vernoux

Fluorescent reporters are valuable tools for plant science research, particularly as sensors to monitor biological signals and developmental processes. Such biosensors are particularly useful to monitor the spatial and temporal distribution of small signalling molecules such as phytohormones. Knowledge of perception and signalling pathways can be exploited to design biosensors for estimating intracellular abundance of hormones. However, the nonlinear relationship between target molecule and reporter necessitates the development of parameterised mathematical models to quantitatively relate sensor fluorescence to hormone abundance. In this opinion article, we will discuss the use of transcriptional reporters, sensor design strategy, and the importance of mathematical modelling approaches and technological advances in the development of new techniques to allow truly quantitative analyses of hormone regulated processes.

Trends in Plant Science 18 (5), 244-249

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