Root border cells are living cells that surround root apices of most plant species and are involved in production of root exudates. We tested predictions of the hypothesis that they participate in detection and avoidance of aluminum (Al) toxicity by comparing responses of two snapbean (Phaseolus vulgaris) cultivars (cv Dade and cv Romano) known to differ in Al resistance at the whole-root level. Root border cells of these cultivars were killed by excess Al in agarose gels or in simple salt solutions. Percent viability of Al-sensitive cv Romano border cells exposed in situ for 96 h to 200 μM total Al in an agarose gel was significantly less than that of cv Dade border cells; similarly, relative viability of harvested cv Romano border cells was significantly less than that of cv Dade cells after 24 h in 25 μM total Al in a simple salt solution. These results indicate that Al-resistance mechanisms that operate at the level of whole roots also operate at the cellular level in border cells. Al induced a thicker mucilage layer around detached border cells of both cultivars. Cultivar Dade border cells produced a thicker mucilage layer in response to 25 μM Al compared with that of cv Romano cells after 8 h of treatment and this phenomenon preceded that of observed cultivar differences in relative cell viability. Release of an Al-binding mucilage by border cells could play a role in protecting root tips from Al-induced cellular damage.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Plant Science