Root contraction in hyacinth. II. Changes in tubulin levels, microtubule number and orientation associated with differential cell expansion

Richard J. Cyr, Bai Ling Lin, Judith A. Jernstedt

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Root contraction in hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis L.) is marked by reoriented cell growth in the cortex of the contractile region. Cellular volume of the inner cortex enlarges fourfold during root contraction. This is associated with large increases in the radial and tangential dimensions and decreases in the longitudinal dimension of the cells. In order to determine the possible role of microtubules (MTs) in these changes we compared tubulin levels and MT numbers and orientation in contracted and non-contracted regions of hyacinth roots. Tubulin content was analysed by a radioimmunoassay; MT numbers and orientation were analyzed by counting profiles in sectioned material using transmission electron microscopy. Contracted tissue was found to have significantly higher levels of tubulin on a per-cell basis than non-contracted tissue, and also increased tubulin levels relative to total protein. The spatial MT frequencies were the same in contracted and non-contracted tissues, indicating a proportional increase in MT numbers in the expanded cells. Although the absolute spatial frequency of MTs was constant, the orientation, as determined by morphometric analysis of MT profiles, was not. While in the longitudinal section plane 42% of the MTs in the non-contracted cells were oblique, in the contracted cells the percentage of MTs presenting oblique profiles increased to 87%. Additionally, a qualitative difference in MTs was observed in contracted cells; electron-opaque material was seen peripherally associated with the MTs of the inner cortex. The changes in tubulin levels and in MT numbers as well as the qualitative differences in the MTs of contracted and non-contracted root regions indicate that, in hyacinth, reoriented cellular enlargement associated with root contraction cannot be explained simply by shifts in the arrangement of preexisting cortical MT arrays, but involves more complex changes in the cytoskeleton.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)446-452
Number of pages7
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1988

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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