We examined the changes in the levels of indoleacetic acid (IAA), IAA esters, and a 22-kilodalton subunit auxin-binding protein (ABP1) in apical mesocotyl tissue of maize (Zea mays L.) during continuous red light (R) irradiation. These changes were compared with the kinetics of R-induced growth inhibition in the same tissue. Upon the onset of continuous irradiation, growth decreased in a continuous manner following a brief lag period. The decrease in growth continued for 5 hours, then remained constant at 25% of the dark rate. The abundance of ABP1 and the level of free IAA both decreased in the mesocotyl. Only the kinetics of the decrease in IAA within the apical mesocotyl correlated with the initial change in growth, although growth continued to decrease even after IAA content reached its final level, 50% of the dark control. This decrease in IAA within the mesocotyl probably occurs primarily by a change in its transport within the shoot since auxin applied as a pulse moved basipetally in R-irradiated tissue at the same rate but with half the area as dark control tissue. In situ localization of auxin in etiolated maize shoots revealed that R-irradiated shoots contained less auxin in the epidermis than the dark controls. Irradiated mesocotyl grew 50% less than the dark controls even when incubated in an optimal level of auxin. However, irradiated and dark tissue contained essentially the same amount of radioactivity after incubation in [14C]IAA indicating that the light treatment does not affect the uptake into the tissue through the cut end, although it is possible that a small subset of cells within the mesocotyl is affected. These observations support the hypothesis that R causes a decrease in the level of auxin in epidermal cells of the mesocotyl, consequently constraining the growth of the entire mesocotyl.
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