ABSTRACT: Drought induces root death in plants; however, the nature and characteristics of root cell death and its underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. Here, we provide a systematic analysis of cell death in the primary root tips in Arabidopsis during water stress. Root tip cell death occurs when high water deficit is reached. The dying cells were first detected in the apical meristem of the primary roots and underwent active programmed cell death (PCD). Transmission electron microscopic analysis shows that the cells undergoing induced death had unambiguous morphological features of autophagic cell death, including an increase in vacuole size, degradation of organelles, and collapse of the tonoplast and the plasma membrane. The results suggest that autophagic PCD occurs as a response to severe water deficit. Significant accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) was detected in the stressed root tips. Expression of BAX inhibitor-1 (AtBI1) was increased in response to water stress, and atbi1-1 displayed accelerated cell death, indicating that AtBI1 and the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress response pathway both modulate water stress-induced PCD. These findings form the basis for further investigations into the mechanisms underlying the PCD and its role in developmental plasticity of root system architecture and subsequent adaptation to water stress.
New Phytologist 03/2010; 186(3):681-95. · 6.64 Impact Factor