Plant and Soil

, Volume 167, Issue 1, pp 127–134 | Cite as

Ultrastructural responses of root caps to the herbicides chlorsulfuron and metsulfuron methyl

  • K. A. Fayez
  • I. Gerken
  • U. Kristen


Herbicide residues may affect seedlings during early stages of their development. We studied this possibility by the use of light and electron microscopy after incubation of germinating seeds ofPisum sativum L. andZea mays L. with different concentrations of chlorsulfuron and metsulfuron-methyl. By in vitro experiments, we have shown that both herbicides caused growth reduction of the very young roots, and severe ultrastructural alterations and injuries of the root caps of both species. Chlorsulfuron caused increase of electron-dense material in the vacuoles, cytoplasmic degeneration even in the inner secretory cell layers of the cap, and disruption of the amyloplast envelopes with release of the statolithic starch grains. In the initial cell complex of the root cap, the herbicides caused the formation of large concentric aggregates of the rough ER and wall disformations in the cells adjacent to this complex. Scanning electron microscopic observations revealed a decrease of the slime layer ensheathing the root cap and the subapical root surface.

We conclude that even in early stages of seed germination, both herbicides seriously affect the gravity perception centre (consisting of the statocytes), and the secretory tissue of the root caps, thus probably disturbing the processes of gravitropism and the protective slime secretion of the roots.

Key words

herbicides chlorsulfuron metsulfuron methyl root cap ultrastructure root growth Pisum sativum Zea mays 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. A. Fayez
    • 1
  • I. Gerken
    • 1
  • U. Kristen
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für Allgemeine BotanikUniversität HamburgHamburgGermany

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