, Volume 226, Issue 1, pp 113-116

Diverse responses of root cell structure to aluminium stress

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Plant cells respond to a certain stress factor in different ways depending on their developmental stage and type of tissue. Structural damage may be severe or even lethal in individual cells within a tissue that exhibits moderate or no effects of stress. In the case of aluminium toxicity, detailed observations of root tips of 3 day old Zea mays L., cv. TO360 seedlings revealed differences in the response of some cells. Two different structural changes appeared within root epidermis just behind the root cap. Cells with dark and shrunken cytoplasm occurred next to swollen cells with preserved cellular compartments. Within the root cortex, individual cells or a few cells of a file have severely damaged cytoplasm, in contrast to almost undisturbed cytoplasm of adjacent cells. Such extremely sensitive cells appear irregularly within the root apex. Their structural similarity with cells that are observed after a hypersensitive response in infected plant tissues suggests a role to accumulate aluminium, in order to allow the surrounding tissue to survive the stress.