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and bacteria is initiated.

Yet, surprisingly, the apical region encompassing the root cap and root me ris tem in plants grown in soil, hydroponics, or laboratory conditions is largely resistant to microbial infection. For exampie, when pea roots are inoculated with the pathogenic fungus Nectria haemaiocoeea, most newly generated root tips remain uninfected even though most roots develop lesions just behind the tip in the region of elongation. The resistance mechanism is unknown but is correlated spatially with the presence of border cells on the cap periphery. Previously, it was found that more than 100 extracellular proteins are released during border cell separation. Wen et al. (pp. 773-783) report that when this root cap secretome is proteolytically degraded during inoculation of pea roots with N. haematococca, the percentage of infected root tips increases from 4% to 100%. In control experiments, protease treatment of conidia or roots had no effect on growth and development of the fungus or the plant. In addition to defense-related and signalling enzymes known to be present in the plant apoplast, the researchers discovered ribosomal proteins, 14-3-3 proteins, and others typically associated with intracellular localization but recently shown to be extracellular components of microbial biofilms. These results suggest that the root cap, long known (O release a high molecular weight polysaccharide mucilage and thousands of living cells into the incipient rhizosphere, also secretes a complex mixture of proteins that appear to function in protection of the root tip from infection.

major phases, described as the globular, heart, and torpedo stages. The globular s tage is a period af pattem formation and morphogenesis, during which the axes of the plant body plan are defined and organ systems formed. The heart stage is a period of maturation, with a characteristic accumulation of storage reserves. In the torpedo stage, the embryo prepares for developmental arrest. Spencer et al. (pp. 924-940) have used laser-capture microdissection to isolate RN A from discrete tissues of globular-. heart-, and torpedo-stage embryos of Arabidopsis. This RNA was amplified, and analyzed by DNA microarrays. Spatial differences in gene expression were four "i to be less significant than temporal differences. Time-course analyses revealed the dynamics and complexity of gene expression in both apical and basal domains of the developing embryo, and several classes of synexpressed genes were identifiable. The transition from globular to heart stage is associated in particular with an up-regulation of genes involved in cell cycle control, transcriptional regulation, and energetics and metabolismo The transition from heart to torpedo stage is associated with a repression of cell cycle genes and an up-regulation of genes encoding storage proteins and pathways of cell growth, energy, and metabolismo The torpedo-stage embryo shows strong functional differentiation in the root and cotyledon, as inferred from the classes of genes e:'Jressed in these tissues. The authors propose that these identified genes can be used to generate cell type-specific markers and promoter activities for future applications in cell biology.

Transcriptional Profiling of the Arabidopsis Embryo


Embryogenesis in Arabidopsis is a continuous process, although for convenience it can be separated into three

Blocking Transpiration througb a Single Stomatal Pore


Previous microscopic observations of intact elderberry (Sambucus nigra)

leaves revealed that stomata spaced 2 mm apart oscillated independently. This suggests that the mechanisms involved in these oscillatory feedback mechanisms occur at a spatial scale smaller than 2 mm. Thermal imaging and imaging of chlorophyll fluorescence. which is taken as a measure for CO2 supply to the leaf and corresponds to stomatal opening, suggest that stomata inside an intercellular air space may behave similarly. These findings indica te that there may be a sensing mechanism that coordinates neighboring stomata. To better eluci date the spatial scale involved in transpirational sensing, Kaiser and Legner (pp, 1068-1077) evaluated the importance of a single pore's transpiration on its own response and that of adjacent pores. They employed a new method of applyng small amounts of mineral oil, which are then carried by capillary force into the pores where they block transpiration locally. Selected stomata on attached intact elderberry leaves were sealed with mineral oil, and the response to a reduction of humidity was continuously observed in situo The response of stomata to a reduction in air humidity usually consists of hydropassive opening followed by active closure. The blocking of a single pore's transpiration by mineral oil, however, had no appreciable effect on hydropassive opening and subsequent stomatal closure. If the adjacent stomata were additionally sealed, this reduced the closing response but not the hydropassive opening. On the other hand, sealing of the entire leaf surface except a small area including the observed stomata also reduced stomatal closure. Contrary to many current hypotheses, these results indicate that strictly local processes triggered by a pore's own transpiration are not required to induce stomatal closure .