Ethylene and phosphorus availability have interacting yet distinct effects on root hair development

Yuan Ji Zhang, Jonathan P. Lynch, Kathleen M. Brown

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127 Scopus citations


The hypothesis that ethylene participates in the regulation of root hair development by phosphorus availability in Arabidopsis thaliana was tested by chemically manipulating ethylene synthesis and response and with ethylene-insensitive mutants. Low phosphorus-induced root hair development could be mimicked by adding the ethylene precursor, 1-amino-cyclopropane-1-carboxylate (ACC), to high phosphorus media, and inhibited by adding ethylene inhibitors to low phosphorus media. Ethylene-insensitive mutants showed a reduced response to low phosphorus, indicating ethylene involvement in root hair responses to phosphorus deficiency. To dissect the nature of this involvement, the morphological and anatomical changes associated with increased root hair density were investigated. Growth in low phosphorus resulted in smaller, more numerous cortical cells, resulting in a larger number of root hair-bearing epidermal cell files. Cortical cell number was not affected by ethylene inhibitors, ACC, or mutations reducing ethylene sensitivity in roots grown with low phosphorus, indicating that ethylene does not participate in this response. The exception was the eir1 mutation, which strongly reduced this change in radial anatomy, supporting a role for polar auxin transport in this process. Trichoblast cell length was reduced by low phosphorus availability in all genotypes, but even more so for ein2-1 and ein4. The proportion of epidermal cells forming hairs and root hair length were reduced in ethylene-insensitive mutants, especially in the presence of low phosphorus. These results demonstrate multiple effects of low phosphorus from the earliest stages of root hair development, and cross-talk between ethylene and phosphorus in the control of a subset of the low phosphorus effects, concentrating on those later in development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2351-2361
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of experimental botany
Issue number391
StatePublished - Oct 1 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


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