Learning To Breathe: Developmental Phase Transitions in Oxygen Status
Plants are developmentally disposed to significant changes in oxygen availability, but our understanding of the importance of hypoxia is almost entirely limited to stress biology. Differential patterns of the abundance of oxygen, nitric oxide ( • NO), and reactive oxygen species (ROS), as well as of redox potential, occur in organs and meristems, and examples are emerging in the literature of mechanistic relationships of these to development. We describe here the convergence of these cues in meristematic and reproductive tissues, and discuss the evidence for regulated hypoxic niches within which oxygen-, ROS-, • NO-, and redox-dependent signalling curate developmental transitions in plants. Trends Plant responses to a change in the availability of oxygen under stress conditions are widely understood. Recent research also provides important developmental contexts for oxygen status. Gradients of oxygen and related cues appear to converge upon hypoxic niches surrounding vital cells, such as root quiescent centre cells and male germ line cells. The regulation of oxygen status is mechanistically related to seed germination, the skoto-photomorphogenic transition, and meiosis. Within each context, ROS and RNS, whose levels are directly linked to oxygen status, appear to be paramount in determining cell fate, but knowledge of the nexus of interactions that determine cell identity and fate remains elusive.
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