Journal of Plant Research

, Volume 128, Issue 5, pp 839–848 | Cite as

Regulation of length and density of Arabidopsis root hairs by ammonium and nitrate

  • Thomas Vatter
  • Benjamin Neuhäuser
  • Markus Stetter
  • Uwe LudewigEmail author
Regular Paper


Root hairs expand the effective root surface to increase the uptake of nutrients and water from the soil. Here the local effects of the two major nitrogen sources, ammonium and nitrate, on root hairs were investigated using split plates. In three contrasting accessions of A. thaliana, namely Col-0, Tsu-0 and Sha, root hairs were differentially affected by the nitrogen forms and their concentration. Root hairs in Sha were short in the absence of nitrate. In Col-0, hair length was moderately decreased with increasing nitrate or ammonium. In all accessions, the root hair density was insensitive to 1,000-fold changes in the ammonium concentrations, when supplied locally as the exclusive nitrogen form. In contrast, the root hair density generally increased with nitrate as the exclusive local nitrogen source. The nitrate sensitivity was reduced at mM concentrations in a loss-of-function mutant of the nitrate transporter and sensor gene NRT1;1 (NPF6.3). Little differences with respect to ammonium were found in a mutant lacking four high affinity AMT-type ammonium transporters, but interestingly, the response to high nitrate was reduced and may indicate a general defect in nitrogen signaling in that mutant. Genetic diversity and the presence of the nitrogen transceptor NRT1;1 explain heterogeneity in the responses of root hairs to different nitrogen forms in Arabidopsis accessions.


Ammonium Arabidopsis Nitrate Nitrogen transporter Nutrient sensing Root hair 



Ammonium transporter




Nitrate transporter



This work was partially financed by a Hohenheim-Rehovot partnership grant to U. L. We thank the Arabidopsis stock center for the nrt1;1 mutant and Dr. N von Wiren for the qko mutant.


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Copyright information

© The Botanical Society of Japan and Springer Japan 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Vatter
    • 1
  • Benjamin Neuhäuser
    • 1
  • Markus Stetter
    • 1
  • Uwe Ludewig
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Institute of Crop Science, Nutritional Crop PhysiologyUniversity of HohenheimStuttgartGermany

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