Sphingosine-1-phosphate and stomata


Drought-induced guard cell signal transduction involves sphingosine-1-phosphate.

Ng C. K. Y., Carr K., McAinsh M. R., Powell B., Hetherington A. M. (2001)

Carl K.-Y. Ng1, Kathryn Carr2, Martin R. McAinsh1, Brian Powell2 & Alistair M. Hetherington1

  1. Department of Biological Sciences, Institute of Environmental and Natural Sciences, Lancaster University, Bailrigg, Lancaster LA1 4YQ, UK
  2. Avecia Limited, Hexagon House, Blackley, Manchester M9 8ZS, UK


in Nature 410, 596–599. – doi: 10.1038/35069092 –

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar – 



Stomata form pores on leaf surfaces that regulate the uptake of CO2 for photosynthesis and the loss of water vapour during transpiration1. An increase in the cytosolic concentration of free calcium ions ([Ca2+]cyt) is a common intermediate in many of the pathways leading to either opening or closure of the stomatal pore2, 3.

This observation has prompted investigations into how specificity is controlled in calcium-based signalling systems in plants. One possible explanation is that each stimulus generates a unique increase in [Ca2+]cyt, or ‘calcium signature’, that dictates the outcome of the final response4.

It has been suggested that the key to generating a calcium signature, and hence to understanding how specificity is controlled, is the ability to access differentially the cellular machinery controlling calcium influx and release from internal stores2, 3, 4, 5 .

Here we report that sphingosine-1-phosphate is a new calcium-mobilizing molecule in plants. We show that after drought treatment sphingosine-1-phosphate levels increase, and we present evidence that this molecule is involved in the signal-transduction pathway linking the perception of abscisic acid to reductions in guard cell turgor.


Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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