The gaseous hormone ethylene plays multiple roles in regulating plant growth and development. In terms of growth, ethylene is most commonly associated with the regulation of cell size, particularly as an inhibitor of cell elongation. However, ethylene may also serve as a signal to promote cell expansion, an important response to submergence stress in some species. In addition to regulating cell expansion, ethylene has also been found to regulate growth through control of cell division in some instances. In terms of development, ethylene is most commonly associated with ‘ageing’, particularly for its ability to accelerate such processes as senescence, ripening and abscission. In addition, ethylene serves as a key modulator of the plant’s response to biotic or abiotic stresses.
A new paper in AoB PLANTS describes genetic analysis conducted over the past couple of decades, primarily with the model plant Arabidopsis, which has resulted in the identification of key elements that mediate the primary response to ethylene.