Royal Society Publishing

The control of specificity in guard cell signal transduction

Alistair M. Hetherington, Julie E. Gray, Calum P. Leckie, Martin R. McAinsh, Carl Ng, Christophe Pical, Alistair J. Priestley, Irina Staxén, Alex A. R. Webb

Abstract

Stomatal guard cells have proven to be an attractive system for dissecting the mechanisms of stimulus–response coupling in plants. In this review we focus on the intracellular signal transduction pathways by which extracellular signals bring about closure and opening of the stomatal pore. It is proposed that guard cell signal transduction pathways may be organized into functional arrays or signalling cassettes that contain elements common to a number of converging signalling pathways. The purpose of these signalling cassettes may be to funnel extracellular signals down onto the ion transporters that control the fluxes of ions that underlie stomatal movements. Evidence is emerging that specificity in guard cell signalling may be, in part, encoded in complex spatio–temporal patterns of increases in the concentration of cytosolic–free calcium ([Ca2+]cyt). It is suggested that oscillations in [Ca2+]cyt may generate calcium signatures that encode information concerning the stimulus type and strength. New evidence is presented that suggests that these calcium signatures may integrate information when many stimuli are present.

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