Salicylate, A new plant hormone

Author(s): Raskin I


This review examines contemporary views of the role of plant hormones in the control of physiological processes. Past and present difficulties with nomenclature encapsulate the problems inherent in using the ‘classic’ hormone concept in plants, with their distinctive multicellular organization. Chemical control may be a more relevant notion. However, control may also reside in the responding tissue via changes in sensitivity, or as combined control, where response is dictated by both sensitivity and concentration. Criteria for demonstrating these modes of action are reviewed, as well as frameworks for deciding whether hormone transport is involved. Problems of measuring relevant hormone concentrations are discussed. Methods for measuring and comparing tissue sensitivity to hormones are outlined and relative control is introduced as a means of assessing the importance of hormonal control against a background of other influences. While animals and plants appear to have coinherited homologueous intracellular signalling systems, at the whole organism level modes of hormone action may diverge. It is postulated that the synthesis-transport-action mechanism of action may be just one of several possible ways that phytohormones could control physiological processes. Twelve separate roles are discussed, and it is suggested that some of these could operate simultaneously to the plant’s advantage.

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