Identification and characterization of a rhizosphere β-galactosidase from Pisum sativum L.

F. Wen, R. Celoy, I. Price, J. J. Ebolo, M. C. Hawes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Plant enzyme activities in the rhizosphere potentially are a resource for improved plant nutrition, soil fertility, bioremediation, and disease resistance. Here we report that a border cell specific β-galactosidase is secreted into the acidic extracellular environment surrounding root tips of pea, as well as bean, alfalfa, barrel medic, sorghum, and maize. No enzyme activity was detected in radish and Arabidopsis, species that do not produce viable border cells. The secreted enzyme activity was inhibited by galactose and 2-phenylethyl 1-thio-β-d-galactopyranoside (PETG) at concentrations that altered root growth without causing cell death. A tomato galactanase encoding gene was used as a probe to isolate a full length pea cDNA clone (BRDgal1) from a root cap-border cell cDNA library. Southern blot analysis using full length BRDgal1 as a probe revealed 1-2 related sequences within the pea genome. BRDgal1 mRNA expression was analysed by whole mount in situ hybridization (WISH) and found to occur in the outermost peripheral layer of the cap and in suspensions of detached border cells. No expression was detected within the body of the root cap. Repeated efforts to develop viable hairy root clones expressing BRDgal1 antisense mRNA under the control of the CaMV35S promoter, whose expression in the root cap is limited to cells at the root cap periphery only during root emergence, were unsuccessful. These data suggest that altered expression of this enzyme is deleterious to early root development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-144
Number of pages12
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Mar 2008


  • Rhizosphere
  • Root cap
  • Root cap secretome
  • Root exudates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Plant Science


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