Plant Molecular Biology

, Volume 98, Issue 3, pp 275–287 | Cite as

Identification of Auxin Activity Like 1, a chemical with weak functions in auxin signaling pathway

  • Wenbo Li
  • Haimin Li
  • Peng Xu
  • Zhi Xie
  • Yajin Ye
  • Lingting Li
  • Deqiang Li
  • Yijing Zhang
  • Laigeng LiEmail author
  • Yang ZhaoEmail author


Key message

A new synthetic auxin AAL1 with new structure was identified. Different from known auxins, it has weak effects. By AAL1, we found specific amino acids could restore the effects of auxin with similar structure.


Auxin, one of the most important phytohormones, plays crucial roles in plant growth, development and environmental response. Although many critical regulators have been identified in auxin signaling pathway, some factors, especially those with weak fine-tuning roles, are still yet to be discovered. Through chemical genetic screenings, we identified a small molecule, Auxin Activity Like 1 (AAL1), which can effectively inhibit dark-grown Arabidopsis thaliana seedlings. Genetic screening identified AAL1 resistant mutants are also hyposensitive to indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) and 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D). AAL1 resistant mutants such as shy2-3c and ecr1-2 are well characterized as mutants in auxin signaling pathway. Genetic studies showed that AAL1 functions through auxin receptor Transport Inhibitor Response1 (TIR1) and its functions depend on auxin influx and efflux carriers. Compared with known auxins, AAL1 exhibits relatively weak effects on plant growth, with 20 µM and 50 µM IC50 (half growth inhibition chemical concentration) in root and hypocotyl growth respectively. Interestingly, we found the inhibitory effects of AAL1 and IAA could be partially restored by tyrosine and tryptophan respectively, suggesting some amino acids can also affect auxin signaling pathway in a moderate manner. Taken together, our results demonstrate that AAL1 acts through auxin signaling pathway, and AAL1, as a weak auxin activity analog, provides us a tool to study weak genetic interactions in auxin pathway.


Arabidopsis Chemical genetics AAL1 Auxin Amino acid 



We thank Dr. Xiaoya Chen (SIPPE) and Dr. Yongfei Wang for providing the Col-0 EMS mutant M2 seeds. We also thank Dr. Zuhua He (SIPPE), Hai Huang (SIPPE) and Lin Xu (SIPPE) for providing auxin-associated mutants. This work was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31171293 and 31371361) and the One Hundred Talents grant of the Chinese Academy of Sciences to Yang Zhao, and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31630014) and the Strategic Priority Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences (XDB27020104) to Laigeng Li.

Author Contributions

YZ and WBL planned and designed the research. WBL and HML performed experiments, conducted fieldwork, analyzed data and wrote the manuscript. LTL helped to perform experiments. YZ, LGL and YJZ modified the manuscript. PX, DQL, YJY and ZX helped to modify the manuscript. YJZ and LGL provided platform for some experiments.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wenbo Li
    • 1
    • 2
  • Haimin Li
    • 1
    • 2
  • Peng Xu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Zhi Xie
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yajin Ye
    • 2
    • 3
  • Lingting Li
    • 2
    • 3
  • Deqiang Li
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yijing Zhang
    • 1
  • Laigeng Li
    • 1
    Email author
  • Yang Zhao
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.National Key Laboratory of Plant Molecular Genetics, CAS Center for Excellence in Molecular Plant Sciences, Institute of Plant Physiology and EcologyChinese Academy of SciencesShanghaiChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesShanghaiChina
  3. 3.Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological SciencesChinese Academy of SciencesShanghaiChina
  4. 4.Faculty of Life Science and TechnologyKunming University of Science and TechnologyYunnanChina

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