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New techniques enable comparative analysis of microtubule orientation, wall texture, and growth rate in intact roots of Arabidopsis

Sugimoto, K., Williamson, R.E., Wasteneys, G.O.
Plant physiology 2000 v.124 no.4 pp. 1493-1506
Arabidopsis thaliana, cortex, developmental stages, microfilaments, cellulose, microtubules, ultrastructure, roots
This article explores root epidermal cell elongation and its dependence on two structural elements of cells, cortical microtubules and cellulose microfibrils. The recent identification of Arabidopsis morphology mutants with putative cell wall or cytoskeletal defects demands a procedure for examining and comparing wall architecture and microtubule organization patterns in this species. We developed methods to examine cellulose microfibrils by field emission scanning electron microscopy and microtubules by immunofluorescence in essentially intact roots. We were able to compare cellulose microfibril and microtubule alignment patterns at equivalent stages of cell expansion. Field emission scanning electron microscopy revealed that Arabidopsis root epidermal cells have typical dicot primary cell wall structure with prominent transverse cellulose microfibrils embedded in pectic substances. Our analysis showed that microtubules and microfibrils have similar orientation only during the initial phase of elongation growth. Microtubule patterns deviate from a predominantly transverse orientation while cells are still expanding, whereas cellulose microfibrils remain transverse until well after expansion finishes. We also observed microtubule-microfibril alignment discord before cells enter their elongation phase. This study and the new technology it presents provide a starting point for further investigations on the physical properties of cell walls and their mechanisms of assembly.