Muhammad Jamil, Yagiz Alagoz, Jian You Wang, Guan‐Ting Erica Chen, Lamis Berqdar, Najeh M. Kharbatia, Juan C. Moreno, Hendrik N. J. Kuijer, Salim Al‐Babili

Abscisic acid inhibits germination of Striga seeds and is released by them likely as a rhizospheric signal supporting host infestation

  • Cell Biology
  • Plant Science
  • Genetics

SUMMARYSeeds of the root parasitic plant Striga hermonthica undergo a conditioning process under humid and warm environments before germinating in response to host‐released stimulants, particularly strigolactones (SLs). The plant hormone abscisic acid (ABA) regulates different growth and developmental processes, and stress response; however, its role during Striga seed germination and early interactions with host plants is under‐investigated. Here, we show that ABA inhibited Striga seed germination and that hindering its biosynthesis induced conditioning and germination in unconditioned seeds, which was significantly enhanced by treatment with the SL analog rac‐GR24. However, the inhibitory effect of ABA remarkably decreased during conditioning, confirming the loss of sensitivity towards ABA in later developmental stages. ABA measurement showed a substantial reduction of its content during the early conditioning stage and a significant increase upon rac‐GR24‐triggered germination. We observed this increase also in released seed exudates, which was further confirmed by using the Arabidopsis ABA‐reporter GUS marker line. Seed exudates of germinated seeds, containing elevated levels of ABA, impaired the germination of surrounding Striga seeds in vitro and promoted root growth of a rice host towards germinated Striga seeds. Application of ABA as a positive control caused similar effects, indicating its function in Striga/Striga and Striga/host communications. In summary, we show that ABA is an essential player during seed dormancy and germination processes in Striga and acts as a rhizospheric signal likely to support host infestation.

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