The apocarotenoid metabolite zaxinone regulates growth and strigolactone biosynthesis in rice

Jian You Wang, Imran Haider, Muhammad Jamil, Valentina Fiorilli, Yoshimoto Saito, Jianing Mi, Lina Baz, Boubacar A. Kountche, Kun Peng Jia, Xiujie Guo, Aparna Balakrishna, Valentine O. Ntui, Beate Reinke, Veronica Volpe, Takashi Gojobori, Ikram Blilou, Luisa Lanfranco, Paola Bonfante, Salim Al-Babili*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Scopus citations


Carotenoid cleavage dioxygenases (CCDs) form hormones and signaling molecules. Here we show that a member of an overlooked plant CCD subfamily from rice, that we name Zaxinone Synthase (ZAS), can produce zaxinone, a novel apocarotenoid metabolite in vitro. Loss-of-function mutants (zas) contain less zaxinone, exhibit retarded growth and showed elevated levels of strigolactones (SLs), a hormone that determines plant architecture, mediates mycorrhization and facilitates infestation by root parasitic weeds, such as Striga spp. Application of zaxinone can rescue zas phenotypes, decrease SL content and release and promote root growth in wild-type seedlings. In conclusion, we show that zaxinone is a key regulator of rice development and biotic interactions and has potential for increasing crop growth and combating Striga, a severe threat to global food security.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number810
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by baseline funding and Competitive Research Grant (CRG2017) given to S. A-B. from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology and by Green-Rice (FACCE-JPI ERA-NET + Agriculture food security and climate change) grant given to P.B. and 60% Projects (University of Torino) given to L.L. We thank Dr. Giampiero Valè and Dr. Gabriele Orasen for the support provided for the field experiment and grains collection at CRA-RIS of Vercelli, Dr. Tadao Asami for providing D6−5-deoxystrigol standard, Anthony Boisseau and Dragos-Bogdan Ilies for technical support in the in vitro assays.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, The Author(s).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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