Root Border Cell Development and Functions of Extracellular Proteins and DNA in Fungal Resistance at the Root Tip
Root fungal diseases
AdvisorHawes, Martha C.
Committee ChairHawes, Martha C.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractSoilborne plant pathogens are responsible for many of the major crop diseases worldwide. However, plant root tips are generally resistant to pathogen infections. The goal of this dissertation research is to understand the mechanism of this natural resistance by testing the hypothesis that root caps and root border cells control the rhizosphere community through the biological products which they deliver to the soil. Specific objectives of this dissertation project are 1) identifying, isolating, and characterizing the genes important for border cell development and for root exudates delivery, and 2) analyzing the function of extracellular macromolecules in root exudates in root tip-fungal pathogen interaction. The expression of a primary cell wall synthesis gene, PsFut1, encoding Pisum sativum fucosyltransferase, was characterized during border cell production, and the impact of silencing this gene on border cell development was examined. Another gene, BRDgal1, encoding β-galactosidase, was identified and characterized in Pisum sativum during this study. It was shown that this β-galactosidase is specifically produced in and secreted from root border cells. The microarray transcriptional profiling in M. truncatula and mRNA differential display analysis in pea plants were carried out following the induction of border cell production to gain a broader understanding of the genes which potentially influence border cell development. In order to study the commonality of border cell production across different plant species, the expression of rcpme1, the marker gene for border cell production, was compared between the garden pea and a gymnosperm species, the Norway spruce (Picea abies). To accomplish the second objective, the focus of this study was shifted from border cell development to mucilaginous root exudates excreted by border cells and root cap cells. This resulted in a breakthrough in the understanding of the mechanisms of root tip resistance. The presence of extracellular DNA in the root mucilage was discovered and its requirement for root tip resistance to fungal infection was demonstrated. Extracellular proteins in the root mucilage were identified and they were shown to be also required for the root tip resistance to fungal infection. This work provided new insights into understanding plant defense mechanisms.
Degree ProgramPlant Science