Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)

Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Auxin Metabolism in Plants

Casanova-Saez, Ruben; Mateo-Bonmati, Eduardo; Ljung, Karin


The major natural auxin in plants, indole-3-acetic acid (IAA), orchestrates a plethora of developmental responses that largely depend on the formation of auxin concentration gradients within plant tissues. Together with inter- and intracellular transport, IAA metabolism-which comprises biosynthesis, conjugation, and degradation-modulates auxin gradients and is therefore critical for plant growth. It is now very well established that IAA is mainly produced from Trp and that the IPyA pathway is a major and universally conserved biosynthetic route in plants, while other redundant pathways operate in parallel. Recent findings have shown that metabolic inactivation of IAA is also redundantly performed by oxidation and conjugation processes. An exquisite spatiotemporal expression of the genes for auxin synthesis and inactivation have been shown to drive several plant developmental processes. Moreover, a group of transcription factors and epigenetic regulators controlling the expression of auxin metabolic genes have been identified in past years, which are illuminating the road to understanding the molecular mechanisms behind the coordinated responses of local auxin metabolism to specific cues. Besides transcriptional regulation, subcellular compartmentalization of the IAA metabolism and posttranslational modifications of the metabolic enzymes are emerging as important contributors to IAA homeostasis. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge on (1) the pathways for IAA biosynthesis and inactivation in plants, (2) the influence of spatiotemporally regulated IAA metabolism on auxin-mediated responses, and (3) the regulatory mechanisms that modulate IAA levels in response to external and internal cues during plant development.

Published in

Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology
2021, Volume: 13, number: 3, article number: a039867