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We provide evidence that the tripeptide thiol glutathione (GSH) participates in the regulation of cell division in the apical meristem of Arabidopsis roots. Exogenous application of micromolar concentrations of GSH raised the number of meristematic cells undergoing mitosis, while depletion of GSH had the opposite effect. A role for endogenous GSH in the control of cell proliferation is also provided by mapping of GSH levels in the root meristem using the GSH-specific dye monochlorobimane and confocal laser scanning microscopy. High levels of GSH were associated with the epidermal and cortical initials and markedly lower levels in the quiescent center. The mechanisms controlling cell division could also be triggered by other reducing agents: ascorbic acid and dithiothreitol. Our data also reveal significant plasticity in the relationship between the trichoblast cell length and the hair it subtends in response to alterations in intracellular redox homeostasis. While mechanisms that control trichoblast elongation are influenced by nonspecific redox couples, root hair tip growth has a more specific requirement for sulfhydryl groups. The responses we describe here may represent the extremes of redox control of root plasticity and would allow the root to maintain exploration of the soil under adverse conditions with minimal cell divisions and root hair production or capitalize on a favorable environment by production of numerous long hairs. Redox sensing of the environment and subsequent redox-dependent modulation of growth and development may be crucial components in the strategies plants have evolved for survival in a fluctuating environment.


Journal article


Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

Publication Date





2745 - 2750