The root system architecture (RSA) of plants is highly dependent on the surrounding nutrient environment. The uptake of essential nutrients triggers various signaling cascades and fluctuations in plant hormones to elicit physical changes in RSA. These pathways may involve signaling components known as small signaling peptides (SSPs), which have been implicated in a variety of plant developmental processes. This review discusses known nutrient-responsive SSPs with a focus on several subclasses that have been shown to play roles in root development. Most functionally well-characterized cases of SSP-mediated changes in RSA are found in responses to nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) availability, but other nutrients have also been known to affect the expression of SSP-encoding genes. These nutrient-responsive SSPs may interact downstream with leucine-rich repeat receptor kinases (LRR-RKs) to modulate hormone signaling and cellular processes impacting plant root development. SSPs responsive to multiple nutrient cues potentially act as mediators of crosstalk between the signaling pathways. Study of SSP pathways is complicated because of functional redundancy within peptide and receptor families and due to their functionality partly associated with post-translational modifications; however, as genomic research and techniques progress, novel SSP-encoding genes have been identified in many plant species. Understanding and characterizing the roles of SSPs influencing the root phenotypes will help elucidate the processes that plants use to optimize nutrient acquisition in the environment.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited