Intraspecies variation in cotton border cell production: Rhizosphere microbiome implications

Gilberto Curlango-Rivera, David A. Huskey, Ayman Mostafa, John O. Kessler, Zhongguo Xiong, Martha C. Hawes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Premise of the study: Border cells, which separate from the root cap, can comprise >90% of carbon-based exudates released into the rhizosphere, but may not provide a general source of nutrients for soil microorganisms. Instead, this population of specialized cells appears to function in defense of the root tip by an extracellular trapping process similar to that of mammalian white blood cells. Border cell production is tightly regulated, and direct tests of their impact on crop production have been hindered by lack of intraspecies variation. Methods: Border cell number, viability, and clumping were compared among 22 cotton cultivars. Slime layer "extracellular trap" production by border cells in response to copper chloride, an elicitor of plant defenses, was compared in two cultivars with divergent border cell production. Trapping of bacteria by border cells in these lines also was measured. Key results: Emerging roots of some cultivars produced more than 20 000 border cells per root, a 100% increase over previously reported values for this species. No differences in border cell morphology, viability, or clumping were found. Copper chloride-induced extracellular trap formation by border cells from a cultivar that produced 27 921 ± 2111 cells per root was similar to that of cells from a cultivar with 10 002 ± 614 cells, but bacterial trapping was reduced. Conclusions: Intraspecific variation in border cell production provides a tool to measure their impact on plant development in the laboratory, greenhouse, and field. Further research is needed to determine the basis for this variation, and its impact on rhizosphere community structure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1706-1712
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican journal of botany
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2013


  • Extracellular trap
  • Rhizosphere
  • Root border cells
  • Root cap

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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