Unraveling the Evolution of Auxin Signaling

Ive De Smet, Ute Voß, Steffen Lau, Michael Wilson, Ning Shao, Ruth E. Timme, Ranjan Swarup, Ian Kerr, Charlie Hodgman, Ralph Bock, Malcolm Bennett, Gerd Jürgens & Tom Beeckman

Auxin signaling is central to plant growth and development, yet hardly anything is known about its evolutionary origin. While the presence of key players in auxin signaling has been analyzed in various land plant species, similar analyses in the green algal lineages are lacking. Here, we survey the key players in auxin biology in the available genomes of Chlorophyta species. We found that the genetic potential for auxin biosynthesis and AUXIN1 (AUX1)/LIKE AUX1- and P-GLYCOPROTEIN/ATP-BINDING CASSETTE subfamily B-dependent transport is already present in several single-celled and colony-forming Chlorophyta species. In addition, our analysis of expressed sequence tag libraries from Coleochaete orbicularis and Spirogyra pratensis, green algae of the Streptophyta clade that are evolutionarily closer to the land plants than those of the Chlorophyta clade, revealed the presence of partial AUXIN RESPONSE FACTORs and/or AUXIN/INDOLE-3-ACETIC ACID proteins (the key factors in auxin signaling) and PIN-FORMED-like proteins (the best-characterized auxin-efflux carriers). While the identification of these possible AUXIN RESPONSE FACTOR- and AUXIN/INDOLE-3-ACETIC ACID precursors and putative PIN-FORMED orthologs calls for a deeper investigation of their evolution after sequencing more intermediate genomes, it emphasizes that the canonical auxin response machinery and auxin transport mechanisms were, at least in part, already present before plants “moved” to land habitats.

Plant Physiology 155 (1), 209-221