Microsurgical removal of epidermal and cortical cells: evidence that the gravitropic signal moves through the outer cell layers in primary roots of maize

Planta. 1990;180:530-6.


There is general agreement that during root gravitropism some sort of growth-modifying signal moves from the cap to the elongation zone and that this signal ultimately induces the curvature that leads to reorientation of the root. However, there is disagreement regarding both the nature of the signal and the pathway of its movement from the root cap to the elongation zone. We examined the pathway of movement by testing gravitropism in primary roots of maize (Zea mays L.) from which narrow (0.5 mm) rings of epidermal and cortical tissue were surgically removed from various positions within the elongation zone. When roots were girdled in the apical part of the elongation zone gravitropic curvature occurred apical to the girdle but not basal to the girdle. Filling the girdle with agar allowed curvature basal to the girdle to occur. Shallow girdles, in which only two or three cell layers (epidermis plus one or two cortical cell layers) were removed, prevented or greatly delayed gravitropic curvature basal to the girdle. The results indicate that the gravitropic signal moves basipetally through the outermost cell layers, perhaps through the epidermis itself.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Agar
  • Biological Transport
  • Diffusion
  • Gravitropism / physiology*
  • Gravity Sensing / physiology
  • Plant Root Cap / cytology
  • Plant Root Cap / growth & development
  • Plant Root Cap / physiology
  • Plant Roots / cytology*
  • Plant Roots / growth & development
  • Plant Roots / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Zea mays / cytology
  • Zea mays / growth & development
  • Zea mays / physiology*


  • Agar