1 August 2022

The Circadian Clock Mutant lhy cca1 elf3 Paces Starch Mobilization to Dawn Despite Severely Disrupted Circadian Clock Function

Moraes TA, Mengin V, Peixoto B, Encke B, Krohn N, Höhne M, Krause U, Stitt M - Plant Physiology, 2022


Many plants, including Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana), accumulate starch in the daytime and remobilize it to support maintenance and growth at night. Starch accumulation is increased when carbon is in short supply, for example, in short photoperiods. Mobilization is paced to exhaust starch around dawn, as anticipated by the circadian clock. This diel pattern of turnover is largely robust against loss of day, dawn, dusk, or evening clock components. Here, we investigated diel starch turnover in the triple circadian clock mutant lhy cca1 elf3, which lacks the LATE ELONGATED HYPOCOTYL and the CIRCADIAN CLOCK-ASSOCIATED1 (CCA1) dawn components and the EARLY FLOWERING3 (ELF3) evening components of the circadian clock. The diel oscillations of transcripts for the remaining clock components and related genes like REVEILLE and PHYTOCHROME-INTERACING FACTOR family members exhibited attenuated amplitudes and altered peak time, weakened dawn dominance, and decreased robustness against changes in the external light–dark cycle. The triple mutant was unable to increase starch accumulation in short photoperiods. However, it was still able to pace starch mobilization to around dawn in different photoperiods and growth irradiances and to around 24 h after the previous dawn in T17 and T28 cycles. The triple mutant was able to slow down starch mobilization after a sudden low-light day or a sudden early dusk, although in the latter case it did not fully compensate for the lengthened night. Overall, there was a slight trend to less linear mobilization of starch. Thus, starch mobilization can be paced rather robustly to dawn despite a major disruption of the transcriptional clock. It is proposed that temporal information can be delivered from clock components or a semi-autonomous oscillator.

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