The role of root border cells in plant defense

Martha C. Hawes, Uvini Gunawardena, Susan Miyasaka, Xiaowen Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

290 Scopus citations


The survival of a plant depends upon the capacity of root tips to sense and move towards water and other nutrients in the soil. Perhaps because of the root tip's vital role in plant health, it is ensheathed by large populations of detached somatic cells - root 'border' cells - which have the ability to engineer the chemical and physical properties of the external environment. Of particular significance, is the production by border cells of specific chemicals that can dramatically alter the behavior of populations of soilborne microflora. Molecular approaches are being used to identify and manipulate the expression of plant genes that control the production and the specialized properties of border cells in transgenic plants. Such plants can be used to test the hypothesis that these unusual cells act as a phalanx of biological 'goalies', which neutralize dangers to newly generated root tissue as the root tip makes its way through soil.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)128-133
Number of pages6
JournalTrends in Plant Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


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