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Phenotypic Plasticity Of Adventitious Rooting In Arabidopsis Is Controlled By Complex Regulation Of AUXIN RESPONSE FACTOR Transcripts And MicroRNA Abundance

Laurent Gutierrez, John D. Bussell, Daniel I. Păcurar, Josèli Schwambach, Monica Păcurar, Catherine Bellini

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Abstract The development of shoot-borne roots, or adventitious roots, is indispensable for mass propagation of elite genotypes. It is a complex genetic trait with a high phenotypic plasticity due to multiple endogenous and environmental regulatory factors. We demonstrate here that a subtle balance of activator and repressor AUXIN RESPONSE FACTOR (ARF) transcripts controls adventitious root initiation. Moreover, microRNA activity appears to be required for fine-tuning of this process. Thus, ARF17, a target of miR160, is a negative regulator, and ARF6 and ARF8, targets of miR167, are positive regulators of adventitious rooting. The three ARFs display overlapping expression domains, interact genetically, and regulate each other's expression at both transcriptional and posttranscriptional levels by modulating miR160 and miR167 availability. This complex regulatory network includes an unexpected feedback regulation of microRNA homeostasis by direct and nondirect target transcription factors. These results provide evidence of microRNA control of phenotypic variability and are a significant step forward in understanding the molecular mechanisms regulating adventitious rooting.