Summary The glucosinolate breakdown product indole-3-carbinol functions in cruciferous vegetables as a protective agent against foraging insects. While the toxic and deterrent effects of glucosinolate breakdown on herbivores and pathogens have been studied extensively, the secondary responses that are induced in the plant by indole-3-carbinol remain relatively uninvestigated. Here we examined the hypothesis that indole-3-carbinol plays a role in influencing plant growth and development by manipulating auxin signaling. We show that indole-3-carbinol rapidly and reversibly inhibits root elongation in a dose-dependent manner, and that this inhibition is accompanied by a loss of auxin activity in the root meristem. A direct interaction between indole-3-carbinol and the auxin perception machinery was suggested, as application of indole-3-carbinol rescues auxin-induced root phenotypes. In vitro and yeast-based protein interaction studies showed that indole-3-carbinol perturbs the auxin-dependent interaction of Transport Inhibitor Response (TIR1) with auxin/3-indoleacetic acid (Aux/IAAs) proteins, further supporting the possibility that indole-3-carbinol acts as an auxin antagonist. The results indicate that chemicals whose production is induced by herbivory, such as indole-3-carbinol, function not only to repel herbivores, but also as signaling molecules that directly compete with auxin to fine tune plant growth and development. Significance Statement We show that indole-3-carbinol, which has long been known to have a role in deterring herbivory, also acts as a modulator of auxin signaling at the level of TIR1, where indole-3-carbinol perturbs the auxin-dependent interaction of TIR1 with Aux/IAA proteins. Our results suggest that chemicals induced by herbivory, such as indole-3-carbinol, function not only to repel the herbivore, but also as signaling molecules that directly competes with auxin to fine tune plant growth and development.
- Arabidopsis thaliana