Regulation of root elongation under phosphorus stress involves changes in ethylene responsiveness

Zhong Ma, Tobias I. Baskin, Kathleen M. Brown, Jonathan P. Lynch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

183 Scopus citations


We characterized the growth of the primary root of Arabidopsis under phosphorus sufficiency (1 mM phosphate) and deficiency (1 μM phosphate), focusing on the role of ethylene. We quantified the spatial profile of relative elongation with a novel method based on image processing, as well as the production rates of cortical cells, trichoblasts, and atrichoblasts. Phosphorus deficiency moderately decreased the maximal rate of relative elongation, shortened the growth zone, and decreased the production rate of both epidermal cell types but not of cortical cells. Inhibiting ethylene production (with aminoethoxyvinyl-glycine) or action (with 1-methylcyclopropene) increased elongation in high phosphorus and decreased it in low phosphorus. That these effects were specific to ethylene was confirmed by negating the effect of inhibited ethylene production with simultaneous treatment with an ethylene precursor (1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid). Under both phosphorus regimes, ethylene regulated the maximal rate of relative elongation rather than the size of the growth zone. In addition, inhibiting ethylene action in high versus low phosphorus elicited opposite responses for the position of root hair initiation and for the production rates of cortex cells and atrichoblasts. We conclude that the root system acclimates to phosphorus deficiency by changing the signal transduction pathway connecting ethylene levels to growth and division.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1381-1390
Number of pages10
JournalPlant physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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