Peng Qin*, Guohua Zhang, Binhua Hu,Jie Wu, Weilan Chen, Zhijie Ren, Yulan Liu, Jing Xie, Hua Yuan, Bin Tu, Bingtian Ma, Yuping Wang, Limin Ye, Legong Li, Chengbin Xiang*, Shigui Li*
Long-distance transport of the phytohormone abscisic acid (ABA) has been studied for ~50 years, yet its mechanistic basis and biological significance remain very poorly understood. Here, we show that leaf-derived ABA controls rice seed development in a temperature-dependent manner and is regulated by defective grain-filling 1 (DG1), a multidrug and toxic compound extrusion transporter that effluxes ABA at nodes and rachilla. Specifically, ABA is biosynthesized in both WT and dg1 leaves, but only WT caryopses accumulate leaf-derived ABA. Our demonstration that leaf-derived ABA activates starch synthesis genes explains the incompletely filled and floury seed phenotypes in dg1. Both the DG1-mediated long-distance ABA transport efficiency and grain-filling phenotypes are temperature sensitive. Moreover, we extended these mechanistic insights to other cereals by observing similar grain-filling defects in a maize DG1 ortholog mutant. Our study demonstrates that rice uses a leaf-to-caryopsis ABA transport–based mechanism to ensure normal seed development in response to variable temperatures.