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Plant Physiol. 2004 Jan;134(1):409-19.

Environmentally induced plasticity of root hair development in Arabidopsis.

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Institute of Biology, Humboldt University Berlin, Invalidenstrasse 42, 10115 Berlin, Germany.


Postembryonic development of plants is dependent on both intrinsic genetic programs and environmental factors. The plasticity of root hair patterning in response to environmental signals was investigated in the Columbia-0 wild type and 19 Arabidopsis mutants carrying lesions in various parts of the root hair developmental pathway by withholding phosphate or iron (Fe) from the nutrient medium. In the aging primary root and in laterals of the wild type, the number of root hairs increased in response to phosphate and Fe deficiency in a manner typical of each growth type. Although an increase in root hair density in -phosphorus plants was mainly achieved by the formation of extra hairs over both tangential and radial wall of underlying cortical cells, roots of -Fe plants were characterized by a high percentage of extra hairs with two tips. Root hair patterning and hair length was differentially affected by the presence or absence of phosphate and Fe among the genotypes under investigation, pointing to separate cascades of gene activation under all three growth conditions. Divergence in root hair patterning was most pronounced among mutants with defects in genes that affect the first stages of differentiation, suggesting that nutritional signals are perceived at an early stage of epidermal cell development. During elongation of the root hairs, no differences in the requirement of gene products between the growth types were obvious. The role of genes involved in root hair development in the aging primary root of Arabidopsis under the various growth conditions is discussed.

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