Chemical Promotion of Endogenous Amounts of ABA in Arabidopsis thaliana by a Natural Product, Theobroxide

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Plant hormones are a group of structurally diverse small compounds that orchestrate the cellular processes governing proper plant growth and environmental adaptation. To understand the details of hormonal activity, we must study not only their inherent activities but also the cross-talk among plant hormones. In addition to their use in agriculture, plant chemical activators, such as probenazole and uniconazole, have made great contributions to understand hormonal cross-talk. However, the use of plant chemical activators is limited due to the lack of activators for certain hormones. For example, to the best of our knowledge, there are only a few chemical activators previously known to stimulate the accumulation of ABA in plants, such as absinazoles and proanthocyanidins. In many cases, antagonistic effects have been examined in experiments using exogenously applied ABA, although these studies did not account for biologically relevant concentrations. In this report, it was found that a natural product, theobroxide, had potential as a plant chemical activator for stimulating the accumulation of ABA. Using theobroxide, the antagonistic effect of ABA against GAs was proved without exogenously applying ABA or using mutant plants. Our results suggest that ABA levels could be chemically controlled to elicit ABA-dependent biological phenomena.

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