Bacteria-free cultures of Spirodela oligorrhiza continue to increase in frond number for 2 to 3 days after transfer to darkness. There is then no further increase in frond number for 3 to 4 weeks, although DNA, RNA and protein synthesis continue at decreased rates and starch accumulates in the plants. We refer to such ‘non-growing’ plants in darkness as dormant. Adding kinetin to dormant Spirodela initiated increased DNA, RNA and protein synthesis within 1h, although new fronds were not detected until 24h after the addition of kinetin. The frond number then continued to increase. Starch accumulated in dormant plants. Accumulation of starch appeared to be a consequence of inhibition of growth rather than the converse. No evidence was obtained for a block in [14C]glucose metabolism that might explain the lack of growth in darkness in the absence of kinetin. In darkness, more ribosomes were membrane-bound in dormant Spirodela than in Spirodela growing with kinetin. Similarities between the response of Spirodela to darkness, stringent control in bacteria and pleiotypic controls in animal cells are discussed. It is suggested that all three processes are ultimately controlled by specific protein kinases that are individually sensitive to different effectors.
- © 1972 London: The Biochemical Society