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Plant roots explore the soil for water and nutrients, thereby determining plant fitness and agricultural yield, as well as determining ground substructure, water levels, and global carbon sequestration. The colonization of the soil requires investment of carbon and energy, but how sugar and energy signaling are integrated with root branching is unknown. Here, we show through combined genetic and chemical modulation of signaling pathways that the sugar small-molecule signal, trehalose-6-phosphate (T6P) regulates root branching through master kinases SNF1-related kinase-1 (SnRK1) and Target of Rapamycin (TOR) and with the involvement of the plant hormone auxin. Increase of T6P levels both via genetic targeting in lateral root (LR) founder cells and through light-activated release of the presignaling T6P-precursor reveals that T6P increases root branching through coordinated inhibition of SnRK1 and activation of TOR. Auxin, the master regulator of LR formation, impacts this T6P function by transcriptionally down-regulating the T6P-degrader trehalose phosphate phosphatase B in LR cells. Our results reveal a regulatory energy-balance network for LR formation that links the 'sugar signal' T6P to both SnRK1 and TOR downstream of auxin.

Original publication




Journal article


Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

Publication Date





SnRK1, TOR, energy-balance, lateral root formation, trehalose-6-phosphate signaling, Arabidopsis, Trehalose, Sugar Phosphates, Indoleacetic Acids, Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases, Arabidopsis Proteins