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Brachypodium distachyon MAP20 functions in metaxylem pit development and contributes to drought recovery
Monday, 2020/06/01 | 08:28:08

Tetyana Smertenko, Glenn Turner, Deirdre Fahy, Rhoda A. T. Brew‐Appiah, Raymundo Alfaro‐Aco, Janice de Almeida Engler, Karen A. Sanguinet, Andrei Smertenko

New Phytologist J. -  https://doi.org/10.1111/nph.16383




Pits are regions in the cell walls of plant tracheary elements that lack secondary walls. Each pit consists of a space within the secondary wall called a pit chamber, and a modified primary wall called the pit membrane. The pit membrane facilitates transport of solutions between vessel cells and restricts embolisms during drought. Here we analyzed the role of an angiosperm‐specific TPX2‐like microtubule protein MAP20 in pit formation using Brachypodium distachyon as a model system.


Live cell imaging was used to analyze the interaction of MAP20 with microtubules and the impact of MAP20 on microtubule dynamics. MAP20‐specific antibody was used to study expression and localization of MAP20 in different cell types during vascular bundle development. We used an artificial microRNAs (amiRNA) knockdown approach to determine the function of MAP20 .


MAP20 is expressed during the late stages of vascular bundle development and localizes around forming pits and under secondary cell wall thickenings in metaxylem cells. MAP20 suppresses microtubule depolymerization; however, unlike the animal TPX2 counterpart, MAP20 does not cooperate with the γ‐tubulin ring complex in microtubule nucleation. Knockdown of MAP20 causes bigger pits, thinner pit membranes, perturbed vasculature development, lower reproductive potential and higher drought susceptibility.


We conclude that MAP20 may contribute to drought adaptation by modulating pit size and pit membrane thickness in metaxylem.


See https://nph.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/nph.16383

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