Plants have to tightly control their energy homeostasis to ensure survival and fitness under constantly changing environmental conditions. Thus, it is stringently required that energy-consuming stress-adaptation and growth-related processes are dynamically tuned according to the prevailing energy availability. The evolutionary conserved SUCROSE NON-FERMENTING1 RELATED KINASES1 (SnRK1) and the downstream group C/S1 basic leucine zipper (bZIP) transcription factors (TFs) are well-characterised central players in plants' low-energy management. Nevertheless, mechanistic insights into plant growth control under energy deprived conditions remains largely elusive. In this work, we disclose the novel function of the low-energy activated group S1 bZIP11-related TFs as regulators of auxin-mediated primary root growth. Whereas transgenic gain-of-function approaches of these bZIPs interfere with the activity of the root apical meristem and result in root growth repression, root growth of loss-of-function plants show a pronounced insensitivity to low-energy conditions. Based on ensuing molecular and biochemical analyses, we propose a mechanistic model, in which bZIP11-related TFs gain control over the root meristem by directly activating IAA3/SHY2 transcription. IAA3/SHY2 is a pivotal negative regulator of root growth, which has been demonstrated to efficiently repress transcription of major auxin transport facilitators of the PIN-FORMED (PIN) gene family, thereby restricting polar auxin transport to the root tip and in consequence auxin-driven primary root growth. Taken together, our results disclose the central low-energy activated SnRK1-C/S1-bZIP signalling module as gateway to integrate information on the plant's energy status into root meristem control, thereby balancing plant growth and cellular energy resources.
2017. Vol. 13, no 2