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Light regulation of plant development

Perception of plant proximity by the phytochrome photoreceptors triggers rapid and reversible changes in dozens of PHYTOCHROME RAPIDLY REGULATED (PAR) genes, at least in part because of the interaction of active phytochromes with various PHYTOCHROME INTERACTING FACTORs (PIFs), initiating a complex network of transcriptional events. The resulting plant responses are collectively known as the shade avoidance syndrome (SAS), which refers to a complex set of adaptive responses intended to overgrow or survive neighboring plants. It has been demonstrated that several of these PAR genes encode partially redundant positive and negative regulators of the SAS responses.

To understand how plants respond to the proximity of neighboring vegetation, and using mostly Arabidopsis thaliana, we are focused in the following aspects:

1. Understanding the genetic and transcriptional network regulating the SAS in Arabidopsis.

2. We have identified DRACULA2, a novel nucleoporine with a specific role in controlling the early changes in gene expression modulated by shade.

3. Genetic analyses of Cardamine hirsuta, a close Arabidopsis relative that tolerates (rather avoids) plant proximity.

Selected Publications

Gallemí M, Molina-Contreras MJ*, Paulišić S*, Salla-Martret M, Sorin C, Godoy M, Franco-Zorrilla JM, Solano R, Martínez-García JF (2017).

A DNA-binding independent activity for the Arabidopsis transcription factor ATHB4 in the regulation of vegetation proximity responses.

New Phytol 216:798-813. Doi: 10.1111/nph.14727.


Gallemí M., Galstyan A., Paulišic S., Then C., Ferrández-Ayela A., Lorenzo-Orts L., Roig-Villanova I., Wang X., Micol J.L., Ponce M.R., Devlin P.F., Martínez-García J.F.

DRACULA2 is a dynamic nucleoporin with a role in regulating the shade avoidance syndrome in Arabidopsis.

(2016) Development (Cambridge), vol. 143 (9), Art. number 14663, pp. 1623-1631 (DOI:10.1242/dev.130211)


Roig-Villanova I and Martínez-García JF (2016).

Plant responses to vegetation proximity: a whole life avoiding shade.

Front Plant Sci 7, 236. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2016.00236


Bou-Torrent J, Toledo-Ortiz G, Ortiz-Alcaide M, Cifuentes-Esquivel N, Halliday KJ, Martinez-García JF and Rodriguez-Concepcion M (2015).

Regulation of carotenoid biosynthesis by shade relies on specific subsets of antagonistic transcription factors and co-factors.

Plant Physiol 169, 1584-1594. doi: 10.1104/pp.15.00552.


Martínez-García JF Gallemí M, Molina-Contreras MJ, Llorente B, Bevilaqua MRR, and Quail PH (2014).

The shade avoidance syndrome in Arabidopsis: the antagonistic role of phytochrome A and B differentiates vegetation proximity and canopy shade.

PLOS One 9: e109275.


Bou-Torrent J, Galstyan A, Gallemí M, Cifuentes-Esquivel N, Molina-Contreras MJ, Salla-Martret M, Jikumaru Y, Yamaguchi S, Kamiya Y and Martínez-García JF (2014

Plant proximity perception dynamically modulates hormone levels and sensitivity in Arabidopsis.

J Exp Bot 65, 2937-2947.


Hay A, Pieper B, Cooke E, Mandáková T, Cartolano M, Tattersall A, Dello Ioio R, McGowan S, Barkoulas M, Galinha C, Rast M, Hofhuis H, Then C, Plieske J, Ganal M, Mott R, Martínez-García JF, Carine M, Scotland R, Gan X, Filatov D, Lysak M and Tsiantis M (2014).

Cardamine hirsuta: a versatile genetic system for comparative studies.

Plant J 78, 1-15.


Cifuentes-Esquivel N, Bou-Torrent J, Galstyan A, Gallemí M, Sessa G, Salla Martret M, Roig-Villanova I, Ruberti I, Martínez-García JF.

The bHLH proteins BEE and BIM positively modulate the shade avoidance syndrome in Arabidopsis seedlings

Plant J. 2013 Sep;75(6):989-1002. doi: 10.1111/tpj.12264. Epub 2013 Jul 26


Bou-Torrent J, Salla-Martret M, Brandt R, Musielak T, Palauqui JC, Martínez-García JF, Wenkel S.

ATHB4 and HAT3, two class II HD-ZIP transcription factors, control leaf development in Arabidopsis

Plant Signal Behav. 2012 Nov;7(11):1382-7. doi: 10.4161/psb.21824. Epub 2012 Aug 23


Galstyan A, Cifuentes-Esquivel N, Bou-Torrent J, Martinez-Garcia JF.

The shade avoidance syndrome in Arabidopsis: a fundamental role for atypical basic helix-loop-helix proteins as transcriptional cofactors

Plant J. 2011 Apr;66(2):258-67. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-313X.2011.04485.x. Epub 2011 Feb 16


Roig-Villanova I, Bou-Torrent J, Galstyan A, Carretero-Paulet L, Portolés S, Rodríguez-Concepción M, Martínez-García JF.

Interaction of shade avoidance and auxin responses: a role for two novel atypical bHLH proteins

EMBO J. 2007 Nov 14;26(22):4756-67. Epub 2007 Oct 18