, Volume 56, Issue 3, pp 367-380

Differential expression profiles of growth-related genes in the elongation zone of maize primary roots

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Abstract

Growth in the apical elongation zone of plant roots is central to the development of functional root systems. Rates of root segmental elongation change from accelerating to decelerating as cell development proceeds from newly formed to fully elongated status. One of the primary variables regulating these changes in elongation rates is the extensibility of the elongating cell walls. To help decipher the complex molecular mechanisms involved in spatially variable root growth, we performed a gene identification study along primary root tips of maize (Zea mays) seedlings using suppression subtractive hybridization (SSH) and candidate gene approaches. Using SSH we isolated 150 non-redundant cDNA clones representing root growth-related genes (RGGs) that were preferentially expressed in the elongation zone. Differential expression patterns were revealed by Northern blot analysis for 41 of the identified genes and several candidate genes. Many of the genes have not been previously reported to be involved in root growth processes in maize. Genes were classified into groups based on the predicted function of the encoded proteins: cell wall metabolism, cytoskeleton, general metabolism, signaling and unknown. In-situ hybridization performed for two selected genes, confirmed the spatial distribution of expression shown by Northern blots and revealed subtle differences in tissue localization. Interestingly, spatial profiles of expression for some cell wall related genes appeared to correlate with the profile of accelerating root elongation and changed appropriately under growth-inhibitory water deficit.