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J Exp Bot. 2005 Apr;56(414):1213-20. Epub 2005 Feb 28.

Root cell patterning: a primary target for aluminium toxicity in maize.

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  • 1Laboratorio de Fisiología Vegetal, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, E-08193 Bellaterra, Spain.


The short-term influence (5-180 min) of 50 microM Al on cell division was investigated in root tips of two Zea mays L. varieties differing in Al-resistance. The incorporation of bromodeoxyuridine into S-phase nuclei was visualized by immunofluorescence staining using confocal laser fluorescence microscopy. In Al-sensitive plants 5 min Al exposure was enough to inhibit cell division in the proximal meristem (250-800 microm from the tip). After 10 or 30 min with Al only, a few S-phase nuclei were found in the cortical initials. By contrast, cell division was stimulated in the distal elongation zone (2.5-3.1 mm). After 180 min the protrusion of an incipient lateral root was observed in this zone. These observations suggest a fast change in cell patterning rather than a general cariotoxic effect after exposure to Al for a short time. No such changes were found in Al-resistant maize. This is the first report showing such fast Al-induced alterations in the number and the position of dividing cells in root tips. The observation that similar changes were induced by a local supply of naphthylphthalamic acid to the distal transition zone suggests that inhibition of auxin transport plays a role in the Al-induced alteration of root cell patterning.

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