Actin microfilament and microtubule distribution patterns in the expanding root of Arabidopsis thaliana

David A. Collings*, Geoffrey O. Wasteneys

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    40 Citations (Scopus)


    Determination of the precise role(s) of actin microfilaments in the control of cell shape and elongation in the root tips of the model genetic system Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh is frustrated by inadequate microscopy imaging techniques. In this paper, we documented both microfilaments and microtubules in the root tips of Arabidopsis by double immunofluorescence labelling and computer-generated reconstruction of confocal image series. Our procedure, which complements the use of recently developed fluorescent reporter proteins, revealed hitherto undescribed aspects of the Arabidopsis microfilament cytoskeleton that may provide important clues about mechanisms behind cell elongation. We found that preservation of extensive arrays of transverse cortical microfilaments depends on unperturbed microtubule organization. Compared with ordinary epidermal cells, cells situated in the trichoblast or hair-forming cell files were comparatively devoid of endoplasmic microfilaments when in the distal elongation zone, well before hair formation begins. Computer-aided reconstructions also revealed that the nonexpanding end walls of cells in the distal elongation zone have radially oriented microtubules and randomly arranged microfilaments. In dividing cells, microfilaments became more prominent in the cell cortex, and subtle differences between microtubule and microfilament organization were seen within the phragmoplast. These observations will form the basis of understanding the roles of the cytoskeleton in controlling elongation in root tissues. In light of the many Arabidopsis mutants with altered root morphology, our methods offer a reliable approach to assess the function of cytoskeletal proteins and signalling systems in root morphogenesis.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)579-590
    Number of pages12
    JournalCanadian Journal of Botany
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2005


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