Cortical microtubules in developing guard cells


Regulation of the spatial order of cortical microtubules in developing guard cells of Allium.

by Marc J., Palevitz B. A. (1990)

  • Jan Marc
  • Barry A. Palevitz

in Planta 182: 626–634 – doi:10.1007/BF02341041 –


The organization of microtubules (MTs) in the cortex of cells at interphase is an important element in morphogenesis. Mechanisms controlling the initiation of MTs and their spatial ordering, however, are largely unknown.

Our recent study concerning the generation of a radial array of MTs in stomatal guard cells in Allium showed that the MTs initiate in a cortical MT-organizing zone adjacent to the ventral wall separating the two young guard cells (Marc, Mineyuki and Palevitz, 1989, Planta179, 516, 530).

In an attempt to detect MT-ordering mechanisms separate from the sites of MT initiation, we now employ various drugs to manipulate the geometry and integrity of the ventral wall and thereby also the associated MT-organizing zone. In the presence of cytochalasin D the ventral wall is tilted away from its normal mid-longitudinal anticlinal alignment, while treatments with the herbicide chloroisopropyl-N-phenylcarbamate (CIPC) induce the formation of a branched ventral wall. Nonetheless, in either case the MTs still form a radial array, although this is asymmetric as it is centered in accordance with the misaligned or branched ventral wall.

Since the MTs maintain their original course undisturbed as they extend beyond the abnormal ventral wall, there is no evidence for the presence of an inherent MT-ordering mechanism at locations remote from MT-initiation sites.

Following treatments with caffeine, which abolishes the formation of the ventral wall, the MTs revert to a transversely oriented cylindrical array as in normal epidermal cells. Thus the presence of the ventral wall, and presumably also the associated MT-organizing zone, is essential for the establishment of the radial array. The MT-organizing zone is therefore involved not only in the initiation of MTs, but also in determining their spatial order throughout the cell cortex.


Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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