Is ABA the exogenous vector of interplant drought cuing?

Omer Falik, Ariel Novoplansky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We have recently demonstrated that root cuing from drought-stressed plants increased the survival time of neighboring plants under drought, which came at performance costs under benign conditions. The involvement of abscisic acid (ABA) was implicated from additional experiments in which interplant drought cuing was greatly diminished in ABA-deficient plants. Here, we tested the hypothesis that ABA is the exogenous vector of interplant drought cuing. Pisum sativum plants were grown in rows of three split-root plants. One of the roots of the first plant was subjected to either drought of benign conditions in one rooting vial, while its other root shared its rooting vial with one of the roots of an unstressed neighbor, which in turn shared its other rooting vial with an additional unstressed neighbor. One hour after subjecting one of the roots of the first plant to drought, ABA concentrations were 106% and 145% higher around its other root and the roots of its unstressed neighbor, compared to their respective unstressed controls; however, the absolute concentrations of ABA found in the rooting media were substantially low. The results may indicate that despite its involvement in interplant drought and the commonly observed exchange of ABA between drought-stressed plants and their rhizospheres, ABA is not directly involved in exogenous interplant drought cuing. However, previous studies have shown that even minute concentrations of ABA in the rhizosphere can prevent ABA leakage from roots and thus to significantly increase endogenous ABA levels. In addition, under drought conditions, plants tend to accumulate ABA, which could markedly increase internal ABA concentrations over time and ABA concentrations in close proximity to the root surface might be significantly greater than estimated from entire rooting volumes. Finally, phaseic acid, an ABA degradation product, is known to activate various ABA receptors, which could enhance plant drought tolerance. It is thus feasible that while the role of ABA is limited, its more stable degradation products could play a significant role in interplant drought cuing. Our preliminary findings call for an extensive investigation into the identity and modes of operation of the exogenous vectors of interplant drought cuing.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number2129295
JournalPlant Signaling and Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2022


  • Abscisic acid
  • Pisum sativum
  • drought cuing
  • exogenous cuing
  • phenotypic plasticity
  • plant communication

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Plant Science


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