Planta 185: 34-37 (1991)

Root growth regulation and gravitropism in maize roots does not require the epidermis

Thomas Björkman and Robert E. Cleland

Department of Botany, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195

Abstract We have earlier published observations showing that endogenous alterations in growth rate during gravitropism in maize roots (Zea mays L.) are unaffected by the orientation of cuts which remove epidermal and cortical tissue in the growing zone (Björkman and Cleland, 1988, Planta 176, 513-518). We concluded that the epidermis and cortex are not essential for transporting a growth-regulating signal in gravitropism or straight growth, nor for regulating the rate of tissue expansion. This conclusion has been challenged by Yang et al. (1990, Planta 180, 530-536), who contend that a shallow girdle around the entire perimeter of the root blocks gravitropic curvature and that this inhibition is the result of a requirement for epidermal cells to transport the growth-regulating signal. In this paper we demonstrate that the entire epidermis can be removed without blocking gravitropic curvature and show that the position of narrow girdles does not affect the location of curvature. We therefore conclude that the epidermis is not required for transport of a growth-regulating substance from the root cap to the growing zone, nor does it regulate the growth rate of the elongating zone of roots. 

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