, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 335-351
Date: 30 Apr 2003

Root Endodermis and Exodermis: Structure, Function, and Responses to the Environment

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Roots of virtually all vascular plants have an endodermis with a Casparian band, and the majority of angiosperm roots tested also have an exodermis with a Casparian band. Both the endodermis and exodermis may develop suberin lamellae and thick, tertiary walls. Each of these wall modifications has its own function(s). The endodermal Casparian band prevents the unimpeded movement of apoplastic substances into the stele and also prevents the backflow of ions that have moved into the stele symplastically and then were released into its apoplast. In roots with a mature exodermis, the barrier to apoplastic inflow of ions occurs near the root surface, but prevention of backflow of ions from the stele remains a function of the endodermis. The suberin lamellae protect against pathogen invasion and possibly root drying during times of stress. Tertiary walls of the endodermis and exodermis are believed to function in mechanical support of the root, but this idea remains to be tested. During stress, root growth rates decline, and the endodermis and exodermis develop closer to the root tip. In two cases, stress is known to induce the formation of an exodermis, and in several other cases to accelerate the development of both the exodermis and endodermis. The responses of the endodermis and exodermis to drought, exposure to moist air, flooding, salinity, ion deficiency, acidity, and mechanical impedance are discussed.