DOI: 10.1093/pcp/pcad071 ISSN: 0032-0781

The Roles of Functional Amino Acids in Plant Growth and Development

Kensuke Kawade, Hiromitsu Tabeta, Ali Ferjani, Masami Yokota Hirai
  • Cell Biology
  • Plant Science
  • Physiology
  • General Medicine


Plants incorporate acquired carbon and nitrogen into amino acid metabolism, whereby the building blocks of proteins and the precursors of various metabolites are produced. This fundamental demand requires tight amino acid metabolism to sustain physiological homeostasis. There is increasing evidence that amino acid metabolism undergoes plastic alteration to orchestrate specific growth and developmental events. Consequently, there has been a gradual exploration of the interface at which amino acid metabolism and plant morphogenesis are mutually affected. This research progress offers an opportunity to explore amino acid metabolism, with the goal to understand how it can be modulated to serve special cellular needs and regulate specific growth and developmental pathways. Continuous improvements in the sensitivity and coverage of metabolomics technology, along with the development of chemoinformatics, have allowed the investigation of these research questions. In this review, we summarize the roles of threonine, serine, arginine and γ-aminobutyric acid as representative examples of amino acids relevant to specific developmental processes in plants (‘functional amino acids’). Our objective is to expand perspectives regarding amino acid metabolism beyond the conventional view that it is merely life-supporting machinery.

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