Pectinous cell wall thickenings formation - A common defense strategy of plants to cope with Pb
Environ Pollut. 2016, 214:354-361

Krzesłowska M, Rabęda I, Basińska A, Lewandowski M, Mellerowicz EJ, Napieralska A, Samardakiewicz S, Woźny A

Lead, one of the most abundant and hazardous trace metals affecting living organisms, has been commonly detected in plant cell walls including some tolerant plants, mining ecotypes and hyperaccumulators. We have previously shown that in tip growing Funaria sp. protonemata cell wall is remodeled in response to lead by formation of thickenings rich in low-methylesterified pectins (pectin epitope JIM5 - JIM5-P) able to bind metal ions, which accumulate large amounts of Pb. Hence, it leads to the increase of cell wall capacity for Pb compartmentalization. Here we show that diverse plant species belonging to different phyla (Arabidopsis, hybrid aspen, star duckweed), form similar cell wall thickenings in response to Pb. These thickenings are formed in tip growing cells such as the root hairs, and in diffuse growing cells such as meristematic and root cap columella cells of root apices in hybrid aspen and Arabidopsis and in mesophyll cells in star duckweed fronds. Notably, all analyzed cell wall thickenings were abundant in JIM5-P and accumulated high amounts of Pb. In addition, the co-localization of JIM5-P and Pb commonly occurred in these cells. Hence, cell wall thickenings formed the extra compartment for Pb accumulation. In this way plant cells increased cell wall capacity for compartmentalization of this toxic metal, protecting protoplast from its toxicity. As cell wall thickenings occurred in diverse plant species and cell types differing in the type of growth we may conclude that pectinous cell wall thickenings formation is a widespread defense strategy of plants to cope with Pb. Moreover, detection of natural defense strategy, increasing plant cell walls capacity for metal accumulation, reveals a promising direction for enhancing plant efficiency in phytoremediation.

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