AbstractThe apocarotenoid zaxinone promotes growth and suppresses strigolactone biosynthesis in rice. To shed light on the mechanisms underlying its growth-promoting effect, we employed a combined omics approach integrating transcriptomics and metabolomics analysis of rice seedlings treated with zaxinone, and determined the resulting changes at the cellular and hormonal levels. Metabolites as well as transcripts analysis demonstrate that zaxinone application increased sugar content and triggered glycolysis, the tricarboxylic acid cycle and other sugar-related metabolic processes in rice roots. In addition, zaxinone treatment led to an increased root starch content and induced glycosylation of cytokinins. The transcriptomic, metabolic and hormonal changes were accompanied by striking alterations of roots at cellular level, which showed an increase in apex length, diameter, and the number of cells and cortex cell layers. Remarkably, zaxinone did not affect the metabolism of roots in a strigolactone deficient mutant, suggesting an essential role of strigolactone in the zaxinone growth-promoting activity. Taken together, our results unravel zaxinone as a global regulator of the transcriptome and metabolome, as well as of hormonal and cellular composition of rice roots. Moreover, they suggest that zaxinone promotes rice growth most likely by increasing sugar uptake and metabolism, and reinforce the potential of this compound in increasing rice performance.