Vascular transcription factors guide plant epidermal responses to limiting phosphate conditions

Science. 2020 Sep 17;eaay4970. doi: 10.1126/science.aay4970. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Optimal plant growth is hampered by deficiency of the essential macronutrient phosphate in most soils. Plant roots can, however, increase their root hair density to efficiently forage the soil for this immobile nutrient. By generating and exploiting a high-resolution single-cell gene expression atlas of Arabidopsis roots, we show an enrichment of TARGET OF MONOPTEROS 5 / LONESOME HIGHWAY (TMO5/LHW) target gene responses in root hair cells. The TMO5/LHW heterodimer triggers biosynthesis of mobile cytokinin in vascular cells and increases root hair density during low phosphate conditions by modifying both the length and cell fate of epidermal cells. Moreover, root hair responses in phosphate deprived conditions are TMO5 and cytokinin dependent. In conclusion, cytokinin signaling links root hair responses in the epidermis to perception of phosphate depletion in vascular cells.