The membrane-localized protein kinase MAP4K4/TOT3 regulates thermomorphogenesis.

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Plants respond to mild warm temperature conditions by increased elongation growth of organs to enhance cooling capacity, in a process called thermomorphogenesis. To this date, the regulation of thermomorphogenesis has been exclusively shown to intersect with light signalling pathways. To identify regulators of thermomorphogenesis that are conserved in flowering plants, we map changes in protein phosphorylation in both dicots and monocots exposed to warm temperature. We identify MITOGEN-ACTIVATED PROTEIN KINASE KINASE KINASE KINASE4 (MAP4K4)/TARGET OF TEMPERATURE3 (TOT3) as a regulator of thermomorphogenesis that impinges on brassinosteroid signalling in Arabidopsis thaliana. In addition, we show that TOT3 plays a role in thermal response in wheat, a monocot crop. Altogether, the conserved thermal regulation by TOT3 expands our knowledge of thermomorphogenesis beyond the well-studied pathways and can contribute to ensuring food security under a changing climate.