Methods of In Situ Quantitative Root Biology

Plants (Basel). 2021 Nov 6;10(11):2399. doi: 10.3390/plants10112399.


When dealing with plant roots, a multiscale description of the functional root structure is needed. Since the beginning of 21st century, new devices such as laser confocal microscopes have been accessible for coarse root structure measurements, including three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction. Most researchers are familiar with using simple 2D geometry visualization that does not allow quantitative determination of key morphological features from an organ-like perspective. We provide here a detailed description of the quantitative methods available for 3D analysis of root features at single-cell resolution, including root asymmetry, lateral root analysis, cell size and nuclear organization, cell-cycle kinetics, and chromatin structure analysis. Quantitative maps of the root apical meristem (RAM) are shown for different species, including Arabidopsis thaliana (L.), Heynh, Nicotiana tabacum L., Medicago sativa L., and Setaria italica (L.) P. Beauv. The 3D analysis of the RAM in these species showed divergence in chromatin organization and cell volume distribution that might be used to study root zonation for each root tissue. Detailed protocols and possible pitfalls in the usage of the marker lines are discussed. Therefore, researchers who need to improve their quantitative root biology portfolio can use them as a reference.

Keywords: cell cycle; chromatin organization; lateral root (LR); nuclear structure; root apical meristem (RAM).