In many plant species, the daily release of hundreds to thousands of healthy cells from the root cap into the soil is a normal process, whose function is unknown. We studied the separation of the cells in pea (Pisum sativum) using an aeroponic system in which separated cells were retained on the root until they were washed off for counting. We found that cell separation is a developmentally regulated, temperature-sensitive process that appears to be regulated independently of root growth. No cells were released from very young roots. When plants were grown aeroponically, cell numbers increased with increasing root length to a mean of 3400 cells per root, at which point the release of new cells ceased. The process could be reset and synchronized by washing the root in water to remove shed cells. Cell separation from the root cap was correlated with pectolytic enzyme activity in root cap tissue. Because these cells that separate from the root cap ensheath the root as it grows and thus provide a cellular interface between the root surface and the soil, we propose to call the cells "root border cells.".
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Plant Science