[Scientific Report] Capability of tip-growing plant cells to penetrate into extremely narrow gaps
Plant cells are covered with rigid cell walls, yet tip-growing cells can elongate by providing new cell wall material to their apical regions. Studies of the mechanical properties of tip-growing plant cells typically involve measurement of the turgor pressure and stiffness of the cells’ apical regions. These experiments, however, do not address how living tip-growing cells react when they encounter physical obstacles that are not substantially altered by turgor pressure. To investigate this issue, we constructed microfabricated platforms with a series of artificial gaps as small as 1 μm, and examined the capability of tip-growing plant cells, including pollen tubes, root hairs, and moss protonemata, to penetrate into these gaps. The cells were grown inside microfluidic chambers and guided towards the gaps using microdevices customized for each cell type. All types of tip-growing cells could grow through the microgaps with their organelles intact, even though the gaps were much smaller than the cylindrical cell diameter. Our findings reveal the dramatic physiological and developmental flexibility of tip-growing plant cells. The microfluidic platforms designed in this study provide novel tools for the elucidation of the mechanical properties of tip-growing plant cells in extremely small spaces.
Naoki Yanagisawa, Nagisa Sugimoto, Hideyuki Arata, Tetsuya Higashiyama & Yoshikatsu Sato Scientific Reports 7, Article number: 1403 (2017) doi:10.1038/s41598-017-01610-w