Lateral root (LR) formation in Arabidopsis thaliana is initiated by asymmetric division of founder cells, followed by coordinated cell proliferation and differentiation for patterning new primordia. The sequential developmental processes of LR formation are triggered by a localized auxin response. LATERAL ORGAN BOUNDARIES-DOMAIN 16 (LBD16), an auxin-inducible transcription factor, is one of the key regulators linking auxin response in LR founder cells to LR initiation. We identified key genes for LR formation that are activated by LBD16 in an auxin-dependent manner. LBD16 targets identified include the transcription factor gene PUCHI, which is required for LR primordium patterning. We demonstrate that LBD16 activity is required for the auxin-inducible expression of PUCHI. We show that PUCHI expression is initiated after the first round of asymmetric cell division of LR founder cells and that premature induction of PUCHI during the preinitiation phase disrupts LR primordium formation. Our results indicate that LR initiation requires the sequential induction of transcription factors LBD16 and PUCHI.
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