Trapping of lead (Pb) by corn and pea root border cells

David A. Huskey, Gilberto Curlango-Rivera, Robert A. Root, Fushi Wen, Mary Kay Amistadi, Jon Chorover, Martha C. Hawes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Aims: Most plants produce a root tip extracellular matrix that includes viable border cell populations programmed to disperse into soil. Like neutrophils, border cells export structures that trap pathogens and prevent root tip infection. Border cells also trap metals. The goal of this study was to determine if border cells trap Pb. Methods: Border cell responses to Pb were observed microscopically. Border cell impact on Pb-induced injury to roots was assessed using root growth assays. Pb removal from solution was measured using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). Speciation of Pb associated with border cells was evaluated by synchrotron X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS). Results: Increased border cell trap size and number occurred within minutes in response to Pb but not silicon (Si). Transient immersion of root tips into Pb after border cells were removed resulted in growth inhibition. Immersion of root tips and border cells into Pb solution resulted in significant removal of Pb. Si levels in the presence of root tips remained unchanged. The Pb speciation, measured with Pb LIII XAS, altered when reacted with border cells, indicating that direct binding by extracellular traps occurred. Conclusions: Border cells can trap Pb and prevent damage to the root tip.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)205-217
Number of pages13
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018


  • Border cells
  • Extracellular DNA traps
  • Rhizofiltration
  • Rhizosphere
  • Root cap

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Plant Science


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