The observation that a starchless mutant (TC7) of Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh. is gravitropic (T. Caspar and B.G. Pickard, 1989, Planta 177, 185-197) raises questions about the hypothesis that starch and amyloplasts play a role in gravity perception. We compared the kinetics of gravitropism in this starchless mutant and the wild-type (WT). Wild-type roots are more responsive to gravity than TC7 roots as judged by several parameters: (1) Vertically grown TC7 roots were not as oriented with respect to the gravity vector as WT roots. (2) In the time course of curvature after gravistimulation, curvature in TC7 roots was delayed and reduced compared to WT roots. (3) TC7 roots curved less than WT roots following a single, short (induction) period of gravistimulation, and WT, but not TC7, roots curved in response to a 1-min period of horizontal exposure. (4) Wild-type roots curved much more than TC7 roots in response to intermittent stimulation (repeated short periods of horizontal exposure); WT roots curved in response to 10 s of stimulation or less, but TC7 roots required 2 min of stimulation to produce a curvature. The growth rates were equal for both genotypes. We conclude that WT roots are more sensitive to gravity than TC7 roots. Starch is not required for gravity perception in TC7 roots, but is necessary for full sensitivity; thus it is likely that amyloplasts function as statoliths in WT Arabidopsis roots. Furthermore, since centrifugation studies using low gravitational forces indicated that starchless plastids are relatively dense and are the most movable component in TC7 columella cells, the starchless plastids may also function as statoliths.
The plant root tip represents a fascinating model system for studying changes in Golgi stack architecture associated with the developmental progression of meristematic cells to gravity sensing columella cells, and finally to "young" and "old", polysaccharide-slime secreting peripheral cells. To this end we have used high pressure freezing in conjunction with freeze-substitution techniques to follow developmental changes in the macromolecular organization of Golgi stacks in root tips of Arabidopsis and Nicotiana. Due to the much improved structural preservation of all cells under investigation, our electron micrographs reveal both several novel structural features common to all Golgi stacks, as well as characteristic differences in morphology between Golgi stacks of different cell types. Common to all Golgi stacks are clear and discrete differences in staining patterns and width of cis, medial and trans cisternae. Cis cisternae have the widest lumina (approximately 30 nm) and are the least stained. Medial cisternae are narrower (approximately 20 nm) and filled with more darkly staining products. Most trans cisternae possess a completely collapsed lumen in their central domain, giving rise to a 4-6 nm wide dark line in cross-sectional views. Numerous vesicles associated with the cisternal margins carry a non-clathrin type of coat. A trans Golgi network with clathrin coated vesicles is associated with all Golgi stacks except those of old peripheral cells. It is easily distinguished from trans cisternae by its blebbing morphology and staining pattern. The zone of ribosome exclusion includes both the Golgi stack and the trans Golgi network. Intercisternal elements are located exclusively between trans cisternae of columella and peripheral cells, but not meristematic cells. In older peripheral cells only trans cisternae exhibit slime-related staining. Golgi stacks possessing intercisternal elements also contain parallel rows of freeze-fracture particles in their trans cisternal membranes. We propose that intercisternal elements serve as anchors of enzyme complexes involved in the synthesis of polysaccharide slime molecules to prevent the complexes from being dragged into the forming secretory vesicles by the very large slime molecules. In addition, we draw attention to the similarities in composition and apparent site of synthesis of xyloglucans and slime molecules.
Gravitropism is directed growth of a plant or plant organ in response to gravity and can be divided into the following temporal sequence: perception, transduction, and response. This article is a review of the research on the early events of gravitropism (i.e., phenomena associated with the perception and transduction phases). The two major hypotheses for graviperception are the protoplast-pressure and starch-statolith models. While most researchers support the concept of statoliths, there are suggestions that plants have multiple mechanisms of perception. Evidence supports the hypothesis that the actin cytoskeleton is involved in graviperception/transduction, but the details of these mechanisms remain elusive. A number of recent developments, such as increased use of the molecular genetic approach, magnetophoresis, and laser ablation, have facilitated research in graviperception and have allowed for refinement of the current models. In addition, the entire continuum of acceleration forces from hypo- to hyper-gravity have been useful in studying perception mechanisms. Future interdisciplinary molecular approaches and the availability of sophisticated laboratories on the International Space Station should help to develop new insights into mechanisms of gravitropism in plants.
Gravitropism was studied in roots of wild type (WT) Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh. (strain Wassilewskija) and three starch-deficient mutants that were generated by T-DNA insertional mutagenesis. One of these mutants was starchless while the other two were intermediate mutants, which had 51% and 60%, respectively, of the WT amount of starch as determined by light and electron microscopy. The four parameters used to assay gravitropism were: orientation during vertical growth, time course of curvature, induction, and intermittent stimulation experiments. WT roots were much more responsive to gravity than were roots of the starchless mutant, and the intermediate starch mutants exhibited an intermediate graviresponse. Our data suggest that lowered starch content in the mutants primarily affects gravitropism rather than differential growth because both phototropic curvature and growth rates were approximately equal among all four genotypes. Since responses of intermediate-starch mutants were closer to the WT response than to the starchless mutant, it appears that 51-60% of the WT level of starch is near the threshold amount needed for full gravitropic sensitivity. While other interpretations are possible, the data are consistent with the starch statolith hypothesis for gravity perception in that the degree of graviresponsiveness is proportional to the total mass of plastids per cell.
(J.L.M., R.P.H.)The interaction of tropisms is important in determining the final growth form of the plant body. In roots, gravitropism is the predominant tropistic response, but phototropism also plays a role in the oriented growth of roots in flowering plants. In blue or white light, roots exhibit negative phototropism that is mediated by the phototropin family of photoreceptors. In contrast, red light induces a positive phototropism in Arabidopsis roots. Because this red-light-induced response is weak relative to both gravitropism and negative phototropism, we used a novel device to study phototropism without the complications of a counteracting gravitational stimulus. This device is based on a computer-controlled system using real-time image analysis of root growth and a feedback-regulated rotatable stage. Our data show that this system is useful to study root phototropism in response to red light, because in wild-type roots, the maximal curvature detected with this apparatus is 30°to 40°, compared with 5°to 10°without the feedback system. In positive root phototropism, sensing of red light occurs in the root itself and is not dependent on shoot-derived signals resulting from light perception. Phytochrome (Phy)A and phyB were severely impaired in red-light-induced phototropism, whereas the phyD and phyE mutants were normal in this response. Thus, PHYA and PHYB play a key role in mediating red-light-dependent positive phototropism in roots. Although phytochrome has been shown to mediate phototropism in some lower plant groups, this is one of the few reports indicating a phytochrome-dependent phototropism in flowering plants.Plants have evolved selective and sensitive mechanisms to deal with the constant sensory input they receive from the environment. In roots, gravity is the most critical signal for growth and development, and, thus, gravitropism has been well-characterized in this organ (Sack, 1991;Kiss, 2000). However, it has become increasingly clear that gravitropism interacts with a number of other tropistic responses including phototropism, thigmotropism, and hydrotropism in determining the final growth form of the primary root and the entire root system (Hangarter, 1997;Correll and Kiss, 2002).Phototropism in roots was extensively reviewed in a classical paper by Hubert and Funke (1937) but has received increased attention since the report by Okada and Shimura (1992), who isolated mutants in root phototropism that were later shown to be deficient in the blue-light receptor PHOT1 (Briggs and Christie, 2002). Roots are typically negatively phototropic in response to white and blue light (Okada and Shimura, 1992;Vitha et al., 2000) and use the same photoreceptors that are involved in phototropism in stems and stem-like organs (Sakai et al., 2000). Furthermore, similar to root gravisensing (Blancaflor et al., 1998), sensing of blue light for phototropism occurs in the root cap .We have recently identified a red-light-induced positive phototropism in primary roots of Arabidopsis ). This tropistic response ...
The transcriptome of seedlings was analyzed from experiments performed on the International Space Station to study the interacting effects of light and gravity on plant tropisms (project named TROPI-2; Kiss et al. 2012). Seeds of Arabidopsis were germinated in space, and seedlings were then grown in the European Modular Cultivation System for 4 days at ~1g followed by exposure to a range of gravitational accelerations (from microgravity to 1g) and two light treatments (blue light with or without a 1 h pretreatment with red). At the end of the experiments, the cassettes containing the seedlings were frozen in the minus eighty laboratory freezer and returned to Earth on space shuttle mission STS-131. The RNA was extracted from whole seedlings and used for the transcriptome analyses. A comparison of 1g spaceflight samples with 1g ground controls identified 230 genes that were differentially regulated at least twofold, emphasizing the need for "in situ" tissue fixation on a 1g centrifuge as an important control for spaceflight experiments. A further comparison of all spaceflight samples with ground controls identified approximately 280 genes that were differentially regulated at least twofold. Of these genes, several were involved in regulating cell polarity (i.e., auxin, calcium, lipid metabolism), cell-wall development, oxygen status, and cell defense or stress. However, when the transcriptome of the all g-treated spaceflight samples was compared with microgravity samples, only ~130 genes were identified as being differently regulated (P ≤ 0.01). Of this subset, only 27 genes were at least twofold differently regulated between microgravity and 1g space samples and included putative/pseudo/undefined genes (14), transposable elements (5), an expansin (ATEXP24; At1g21240), a cell-wall kinase (WAK3; At1g21240), a laccase-like flavonoid oxidase (TT10; At5g48100), among others.
Gravitropic orientation and the elongation of etiolated hypocotyls are both regulated by red light through the phytochrome family of photoreceptors. The importance of phytochromes A and B (phyA and phyB) in these red light responses has been established through studies using phy mutants. To identify the roles that phytochromes play in gravitropism and elongation of roots, we studied the effects of red light on root elongation and then compared the gravitropic curvature from roots of phytochrome mutants of Arabidopsis (phyA, phyB, phyD and phyAB) with wild type. We found that red light inhibits root elongation approximately 35% in etiolated seedlings and that this response is controlled by phytochromes. Roots from dark- and light-grown double mutants (phyAB) and light-grown phyB seedlings have reduced elongation rates compared with wild type. In addition, roots from these seedlings (dark/light-grown phyAB and light-grown phyB) have reduced rates of gravitropic curvature compared with wild type. These results demonstrate roles for phytochromes in regulating both the elongation and gravitropic curvature of roots.
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