, Volume 215, Issue 2, pp 304-311

Formation of transfer cells and H+ -ATPase expression in tomato roots under P and Fe deficiency

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In roots of tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.), extranumerary root hairs and transfer cell-like wall ingrowth depositions in the rhizodermis were developed in response to P and Fe deficiency. Immunocytolocalization of the plasma membrane H+-ATPase in roots of P-deficient plants revealed no appreciable increase in H+-ATPase density relative to control plants. In transfer cells, immunogold labeling was considerably higher than in ordinary rhizodermal cells. H+-ATPase sites were asymmetrically distributed in cells with and without wall ingrowths under P-deficient conditions. A split-root study revealed that the frequency of transfer cells was higher in the low-P half of the root system, but the density of H+-ATPase molecules was enhanced only in the high-P half of the split roots, suggesting that formation of transfer cells was controlled directly by the external Pi concentration, whereas ATPase expression was regulated indirectly by the internal nutrient status of the plant. The role of hormones in the induction of transfer cells was investigated by treating plants with the ethylene precursor 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC) or various ethylene antagonists. Transfer cells were induced by ACC to an extent similar to that observed after P or Fe starvation, but inhibitors of either ethylene synthesis or action did not decrease their frequency. These results suggest that ethylene was not required for the induction of transfer cells but changes in ethylene levels appeared to modulate the number of cells forming wall ingrowths. In roots of ethylene-insensitive Never-ripe tomato plants the frequency of transfer cells was rather increased than decreased under most growth conditions relative to the wild type, indicating that ethylene responsiveness played no critical role in the differentiation of transfer cells and that the transduction of signals ultimately leading to their formation was independent of the ethylene signaling cascade.