Origin and evolution of the nuclear auxin response system

Sumanth K. Mutte, Hirotaka Kato, Carl Rothfels, Michael Melkonian, Gane Ka Shu Wong, Dolf Weijers*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

129 Citations (Scopus)


The small signaling molecule auxin controls numerous developmental processes in land plants, acting mostly by regulating gene expression. Auxin response proteins are represented by large families of diverse functions, but neither their origin nor their evolution is understood. Here, we use a deep phylogenomics approach to reconstruct both the origin and the evolutionary trajectory of all nuclear auxin response protein families. We found that, while all subdomains are ancient, a complete auxin response mechanism is limited to land plants. Functional phylogenomics predicts defined steps in the evolution of response system properties, and comparative transcriptomics across six ancient lineages revealed how these innovations shaped a sophisticated response mechanism. Genetic analysis in a basal land plant revealed unexpected contributions of ancient non-canonical proteins in auxin response as well as auxin-unrelated function of core transcription factors. Our study provides a functional evolutionary framework for understanding diverse functions of the auxin signal.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere33399
Publication statusPublished - 27 Mar 2018


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  • 2019 UFW Research Award

    Mutte, Sumanth (Recipient) & Kato, Hirotaka (Recipient), 3 Sept 2019

    Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

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