Altered carbon delivery from roots: rapid, sustained inhibition of border cell dispersal in response to compost water extracts

Stacy Joy Tollefson, Gilberto Curlango-Rivera, David A. Huskey, Thomas Pew, Gene A Giacomelli, Martha C Hawes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


Background and aims: In a previous study, a compost water extract (CWE) applied to pea seedlings resulted in >95 % protection against root infection. The protection was correlated with retention of a sheath of root border cells surrounding each root tip. A transient exposure to CWE was correlated with 80 % reduction in infection, and with retention of border cell sheaths. Early effects of CWE on border cell dispersal therefore were examined.

Materials and methods: Temporal and spatial dynamics of pea, maize, cotton, and cucumber border cell dispersal into water or CWE were measured.

Results: Border cells formed a mass surrounding root tips within seconds after exposure to water, and most cells dispersed into suspension spontaneously. In CWE, >90 % of the border cell population instead remained appressed to the root surface, even after vigorous agitation. In cotton, for example, >25,000 border cells dispersed within seconds of immersion in water, but <100 border cells dispersed after >24 h in CWE.

Conclusions: Border cells can contribute >90 % of carbon released from young roots, and a single border cell can trap hundreds of bacteria within minutes. The impact of altered border cell dispersal on soil properties, plant nutrition, and root disease development warrants further study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-156
Number of pages12
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2015



  • Belowground C
  • Carbon deposition
  • Compost
  • Rhizosphere microbiome
  • Root border cells
  • Root-derived C

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Plant Science

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