Plant cell growth responds to external forces and the response requires intact microtubules

Carol L. Wymer, Scott A. Wymer, Daniel J. Cosgrove, Richard J. Cyr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


Microfibril deposition in most plant cells is influenced by cortical microtubules. Thus, cortical microtubules are templates that provide spatial information to the cell wall. How cortical microtubules acquire their spatial information and are positioned is unknown. There are indications that plant cells respond to mechanical stresses by using microtubules as sensing elements. Regenerating protoplasts from tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) were used to determine whether cells can be induced to expand in a preferential direction in response to an externally applied unidirectional force. Additionally, an anti-microtubule herbicide was used to investigate the role of microtubules in the response to this force. Protoplasts were embedded in agarose, briefly centrifuged at 28 to 34g, and either cultured or immediately prepared for immunolocalization of their microtubules. The microtubules within many centrifuged protoplasts were found to be oriented parallel to the centrifugal force vector. Most protoplasts elongated with a preferential axis that was oriented 60 to 90° to the applied force vector. Protoplasts treated transiently with the reversible microtubule-disrupting agent amiprophos-methyl (applied before and during centrifugation) elongated but without a preferential growth axis. These results indicate that brief biophysical forces may influence the alignment of cortical microtubules and that microtubules themselves act as biophysical responding elements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)425-430
Number of pages6
JournalPlant physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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