Ethylene: A tiny molecule with great potential

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    Abstract

    Ethylene (C2H4) is a gaseous plant hormone produced by higher and lower (green) plants and, when grown on appropriate substrates, also by fungi, yeasts and bacteria. Ethylene is involved in many developmental processes in plants and is biologically active in trace amounts (10-100 nl/l of air) that may be present in the outside air due to industrial air pollution(1). Fruit ripening and flower senescence especially, in a variety of commercially important crops, are dramatically stimulated by ethylene. Following characterization of the genes coding for the key enzymes in ethylene biosynthesis, i.e. ACC synthase and ACC oxidase, it has become clear that their expression is regulated in a complex manner involving developmental, hormonal and tissue-specific factors. This was recently very elegantly demonstrated for the expression of ACC oxidase genes in developing petunia flowers by Tang et al.(2). The spatial and temporal expression patterns, especially in the reproductive organs, suggest a hitherto unknown role for ethylene in reproductive processes such as the self-incompatible response and the secretion of cellular exudate by the stigma and nectary.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)287-290
    JournalBioessays
    Volume17
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1995

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