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Planta. 1997;201(2):209-18.

Growth and ultrastructure of Arabidopsis root hairs: the rhd3 mutation alters vacuole enlargement and tip growth.

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Department of Biology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48109-1048, USA.


The root hairs of plants are tubular projections of root epidermal cells and are suitable for investigating the control of cellular morphogenesis. In wild-type Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh, growing root hairs were found to exhibit cellular expansion limited to the apical end of the cell, a polarized distribution of organelles in the cytoplasm, and vesicles of several types located near the growing tip. The rhd3 mutant produces short and wavy root hairs with an average volume less than one-third of the wild-type hairs, indicating abnormal cell expansion. The mutant hairs display a striking reduction in vacuole size and a corresponding increase in the relative proportion of cytoplasm throughout hair development. Beadlabeling experiments and ultrastructural analyses indicate that the wavy-hair phenotype of the mutant is caused by asymmetric tip growth, possibly due to abnormally distributed vesicles in cortical areas flanking the hair tips. It is suggested that a major effect of the rhd3 mutation is to inhibit vacuole enlargement which normally accompanies root hair cell expansion.

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