SCARECROW and SHORTROOT control the auxin/cytokinin balance necessary for embryonic stem cell niche specification.

The root apical meristem is established during embryogenesis, when its organizer, the quiescent center, is specified and the stem cell niche is positioned. The SCARECROW-SHORTROOT heterodimer is essential for quiescent center specification and maintenance. As continuous post-embryonic root growth relies upon the SCARECROW-mediated control of the cytokinin/auxin balance, we investigated the role of SCARECROW and SHORTROOT in controlling cytokinin signaling during embryonic quiescent center specification. We found that from embryogenesis onward both SCARECROW and SHORTROOT antagonize cytokinin signaling, thus repressing the expression of the auxin biosynthetic enzyme ANTRANILATHE SYNTHASE BETA 1. This mechanism prevents detrimental and premature high auxin levels in the QC allowing the establishment of a functional embryonic root pole.