A Local Auxin Gradient Regulates Root Cap Self-Renewal and Size Homeostasis
Current Biology 2018 Available online 2 August
Dubreuil C, Jin X, Grönlund A, Fischer U

Organ size homeostasis, compensatory growth to replace lost tissue, requires constant measurement of size and adjustment of growth rates. Morphogen gradients control organ and tissue sizes by regulating stem cell activity, cell differentiation, and removal in animals [1, 2, 3]. In plants, control of tissue size is of specific importance in root caps to protect the growing root tip from mechanical damage [4]. New root cap tissue is formed by the columella and lateral root-cap-epidermal stem cells, whose activity is regulated through non-dividing niche-like cells, the quiescent center (QC) [4, 5]. Columella daughter cells in contact with the QC retain the potency to divide, while derivatives oriented toward the mature cap undergo differentiation. The outermost columella layers are sequentially separated from the root body, involving remodeling of cell walls [6]. Factors regulating the balance between cell division, elongation, and separation to keep root cap size constant are currently unknown [4]. Here, we report that stem cell proliferation induced cell separation at the periphery of the root cap, resulting in tissue size homeostasis. An auxin response gradient with a maximum in the QC and a minimum in the detaching layer was established prior to the onset of cell separation. In agreement with a mathematical model, tissue size was positively regulated by the amount of auxin released from the source. Auxin transporters localized non-polarly to plasma membranes of the inner cap, partly isolating separating layers from the auxin source. Together, these results are in support of an auxin gradient measuring and regulating tissue size.

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