Prof. Keiko Torii and her collaborators in the Biology and Materials Science and Engineering Departments at UW were published in Nature for their study of stomatal patterning, identifying the signals that control where they are placed on plant surfaces.
During development, cells interpret complex and often conflicting signals to make optimal decisions. Plant stomata, the cellular interface between a plant and the atmosphere, develop according to positional cues, which include a family of secreted peptides called epidermal patterning factors (EPFs). How these signalling peptides orchestrate pattern formation at a molecular level remains unclear. Here we report in Arabidopsis that Stomagen (also called EPF-LIKE9) peptide, which promotes stomatal development, requires ERECTA (ER)-family receptor kinases and interferes with the inhibition of stomatal development by the EPIDERMAL PATTERNING FACTOR 2 (EPF2)–ER module. Both EPF2 and Stomagen directly bind to ER and its co-receptor TOO MANY MOUTHS. Stomagen peptide competitively replaced EPF2 binding to ER. Furthermore, application of EPF2, but not Stomagen, elicited rapid phosphorylation of downstream signalling components in vivo. Our findings demonstrate how a plant receptor agonist and antagonist define inhibitory and inductive cues to fine-tune tissue patterning on the plant epidermis.