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New publication: Cytokinins as boron deficiency signals to sustain shoot development in boron-efficient oilseed rape

Abstract Boron (B) deficiency is a highly prominent nutrient disorder. While B-efficient acces- sions have recently been identified in the highly B-demanding crop oilseed rape, it remained unclear which physiological processes underlie B efficiency and which sig- naling pathways trigger an efficient B-deficiency response. Here, we compared, under three different B supply conditions, two Brassica napus accessions with con- trasting B efficiency. Shoot biomass formation, B distribution patterns and metabolic dynamics of different phytohormone species were studied using a combination of mass spectrometry-based analyses and physiological measurements. Our results show that the B-efficient accession CR2267 does not differ from the B-inefficient accession CR2262 in terms of B accumulation and subcellular B-partitioning, although it displays no morphological B-deficiency symptoms under severe B-deficient condi- tions. Investigating phytohormone metabolism revealed a strong accumulation of cytokinins in CR2267 at a developmental stage when striking B-dependent differ- ences in biomass and organ formation emerge in the two B. napus accessions. In con- trast, elevated levels of the stress hormone abscisic acid as well as bioactive auxins, representing functional antagonists of cytokinins in shoots, were detected only in CR2262. Our results indicate that superior B efficiency in CR2267 relies on a higher B utilization efficiency that builds on an earlier and higher cytokinin biosynthesis required for the maintenance of the shoot meristem activity and proper leaf develop- ment. We further conclude that an elevated abundance of cytokinins is not a conse- quence of better plant growth but rather a presumption for better plant growth under low-B conditions.