Send to

Choose Destination
Plant J. 1998 Jul;15(1):119-23.

Physical strain-mediated microtubule reorientation in the epidermis of gravitropically or phototropically stimulated maize coleoptiles.

Author information

Biologisches Institut II der Universitat, Freiburg, Germany.


During gravitropic and phototropic curvature of the maize coleoptile, the cortical microtubules (MTs) adjacent to the outer epidermal cell wall assume opposite orientations at the two sides of the organ. Starting from a uniformly random pattern during straight growth in darkness, the MTs reorientate perpendicularly to the organ axis at the outer (faster growing) side and parallel to the organ axis at the inner (slower growing) side. As similar reorientations can be induced during straight growth by increasing or decreasing the effective auxin concentration, it has been proposed that these reorientations may be used as a diagnostic test for assessing the auxin status of the epidermal cells during tropic curvature. This idea was tested by determining the MT orientations in the coleoptile of intact maize seedlings in which the gravitropic or phototropic curvature was prevented or inversed by an appropriate mechanical counterforce. Forces that just prevented the coleoptile from curving in a gravity or light field prevented reorientations of the MTs. Forces strong enough to overcompensate the tropic stimuli by enforcing curvature in the opposite direction induced reorientations of the MTs opposite to those produced by tropic stimulation. These results show that the MTs at the outer surface of the coleoptile respond to changes in mechanical tissue strain rather than to gravitropic or phototropic stimuli and associated changes at the level of auxin or any other element in the signal transduction chain between perception of tropic stimuli and asymmetric growth response. It is proposed that cortical MTs can act as strain gauges in a positive feed-back regulatory circle utilized for amplification and stabilization of environmentally induced changes in the direction of elongation growth.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center