Microtubule cortical array organization and plant cell morphogenesis

Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2006 Dec;9(6):571-8. doi: 10.1016/j.pbi.2006.09.005. Epub 2006 Sep 28.


Plant cell cortical microtubule arrays attain a high degree of order without the benefit of an organizing center such as a centrosome. New assays for molecular behaviors in living cells and gene discovery are yielding insight into the mechanisms by which acentrosomal microtubule arrays are created and organized, and how microtubule organization functions to modify cell form by regulating cellulose deposition. Surprising and potentially important behaviors of cortical microtubules include nucleation from the walls of established microtubules, and treadmilling-driven motility leading to polymer interaction, reorientation, and microtubule bundling. These behaviors suggest activities that can act to increase or decrease the local level of order in the array. The SPIRAL1 (SPR1) and SPR2 microtubule-localized proteins and the radial swollen 6 (rsw-6) locus are examples of new molecules and genes that affect both microtubule array organization and cell growth pattern. Functional tagging of cellulose synthase has now allowed the dynamic relationship between cortical microtubules and the cell-wall-synthesizing machinery to be visualized, providing direct evidence that cortical microtubules can organize cellulose synthase complexes and guide their movement through the plasma membrane as they create the cell wall.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Growth Processes
  • Microtubules / metabolism*
  • Plant Cells*
  • Plant Development
  • Plants / metabolism