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New role of arginine metabolism in plant morphogenesis identified

September 9, 2020
National Institutes of Natural Sciences
A research team found that arginine metabolism has a vital role in regulating gametophore shoot formation in the moss Physcomitrium patens.

Arginine metabolism boosts to make a plant body complex, according to new research by a collaborative team from Exploratory Research Center on Life and Living Systems (ExCELLS), National Institute for Basic Biology (NIBB), RIKEN, Rikkyo University, Toyohashi University of Technology, Yamagata University, Chiba University, Hokkaido University, and University of Tokyo in Japan. The findings, now online in Cell Reports, might lead to a new understanding of amino acid metabolism with a specific role in plant morphogenesis.

In the ancestral lineage of land plants, the moss Physcomitrium patens has evolved to produce leafy shoots called gametophore. "Because metabolic reprogramming is necessary for this dramatic evolution in morphology to ensure the generation of sufficient biomass, we focused on gametophore formation as a model to uncover a mutual interaction between morphogenesis and metabolism" said Associate Professor Kensuke Kawade at ExCELLS/NIBB.

In the current study, they showed that arginine metabolism is a key for gametophore formation in Physcomitrium patens and identified its underlying core pathway mediated by transcriptional co-activators ANGUSTIFOLIA3/GRF-INTERACTING FACTOR1 (AN3/GIF1) family signaling. These findings have advanced our understanding of the mechanism, by which the shoot system was established via metabolic reprogramming during the evolution of plants. More generally, this study refines the emerging concept in biology that developmental and metabolic processes influence one another for chemical force that facilitates growth, morphogenesis, and maturation. "Future work to clarify what kind of metabolite is produced from arginine in gametophores promises to unravel the physiological base of this phenomenon" explained Kawade.

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Journal Reference:

  1. Kensuke Kawade, Gorou Horiguchi, Yuu Hirose, Akira Oikawa, Masami Yokota Hirai, Kazuki Saito, Tomomichi Fujita, Hirokazu Tsukaya. Metabolic Control of Gametophore Shoot Formation through Arginine in the Moss Physcomitrium patens. Cell Reports, 2020; 32 (10): 108127 DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2020.108127

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National Institutes of Natural Sciences. "New role of arginine metabolism in plant morphogenesis identified." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 September 2020. <>.
National Institutes of Natural Sciences. (2020, September 9). New role of arginine metabolism in plant morphogenesis identified. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 25, 2024 from
National Institutes of Natural Sciences. "New role of arginine metabolism in plant morphogenesis identified." ScienceDaily. (accessed May 25, 2024).

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