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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Dec 2;105(48):18818-23. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0807814105. Epub 2008 Nov 24.

Mechanical induction of lateral root initiation in Arabidopsis thaliana.

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Institutes of Biology II and Biology III, Faculty of Biology, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität of Freiburg, Schänzlestrasse 1, D-79104 Freiburg, Germany.


Lateral roots are initiated postembryonically in response to environmental cues, enabling plants to explore efficiently their underground environment. However, the mechanisms by which the environment determines the position of lateral root formation are unknown. In this study, we demonstrate that in Arabidopsis thaliana lateral root initiation can be induced mechanically by either gravitropic curvature or by the transient bending of a root by hand. The plant hormone auxin accumulates at the site of lateral root induction before a primordium starts to form. Here we describe a subcellular relocalization of PIN1, an auxin transport protein, in a single protoxylem cell in response to gravitropic curvature. This relocalization precedes auxin-dependent gene transcription at the site of a new primordium. Auxin-dependent nuclear signaling is necessary for lateral root formation; arf7/19 double knock-out mutants normally form no lateral roots but do so upon bending when the root tip is removed. Signaling through arf7/19 can therefore be bypassed by root bending. These data support a model in which a root-tip-derived signal acts on downstream signaling molecules that specify lateral root identity.

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