Quantifying the plant actin cytoskeleton response to applied pressure using nanoindentation
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Detection of potentially pathogenic microbes through recognition by plants and animals of both physical and chemical signals associated with the pathogens is vital for host well-being. Signal perception leads to the induction of a variety of responses that augment pre-existing, constitutive defences. The plant cell wall is a highly effective preformed barrier which becomes locally reinforced at the infection site through delivery of new wall material by the actin cytoskeleton. Although mechanical stimulation can produce a reaction, there is little understanding of the nature of physical factors capable of triggering plant defence. Neither the magnitude of forces nor the contact time required has been quantified. In the study reported here, mechanical stimulation with a tungsten microneedle has been used to quantify the response of Arabidopsis plants expressing an actin-binding protein tagged with green fluorescent protein (GFP) to reveal the organisation of the actin cytoskeleton. Using confocal microscopy, the response time for actin reorganisation in epidermal cells of Arabidopsis hypocotyls was shown to be 116 ± 49 s. Using nanoindentation and a diamond spherical tip indenter, the magnitude of the forces capable of triggering an actin response has been quantified. We show that Arabidopsis hypocotyl cells can detect a force as small as 4 μN applied for as short a time as 21.6 s to trigger reorganisation of the actin cytoskeleton. This force is an order of magnitude less than the potential invasive force determined for a range of fungal and oomycete plant pathogens. To our knowledge, this is the first quantification of the magnitude and duration of mechanical forces capable of stimulating a structural defence response in a plant cell.
KeywordsApplied force Arabidopsis GFP-tagged cell component Mechanical stimulation Speed of plant response
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Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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