Background: The positioning and dynamics of vesicles and organelles, and thus the growth of plant cells, is mediated by the acto-myosin system. In Arabidopsis there are 13 class XI myosins which mediate vesicle and organelle transport in different cell types. So far the involvement of five class XI myosins in cell expansion during the shoot and root development has been shown, three of which, XI-1, XI-2, and XI-K, are essential for organelle transport.
Results: Simultaneous depletion of Arabidopsis class XI myosins XI-K, XI-1, and XI-2 in double and triple mutant plants affected the growth of several types of epidermal cells. The size and shape of trichomes, leaf pavement cells and the elongation of the stigmatic papillae of double and triple mutant plants were affected to different extent. Reduced cell size led to significant size reduction of shoot organs in the case of triple mutant, affecting bolt formation, flowering time and fertility. Phenotype analysis revealed that the reduced fertility of triple mutant plants was caused by delayed or insufficient development of pistils.
Conclusions: We conclude that the class XI myosins XI-K, XI-1 and XI-2 have partially redundant roles in the growth of shoot epidermis. Myosin XI-K plays more important role whereas myosins XI-1 and XI-2 have minor roles in the determination of size and shape of epidermal cells, because the absence of these two myosins is compensated by XI-K. Co-operation between myosins XI-K and XI-2 appears to play an important role in these processes.