Roots show positive hydrotropism in response to moisture gradients, which is believed to contribute to plant water acquisition. This article reviews the recent advances of the physiological and molecular genetic studies on hydrotropism in seedling roots of Arabidopsis thaliana. We identified MIZU-KUSSEI1 (MIZ1) and MIZ2, essential genes for hydrotropism in roots; the former encodes a protein of unknown function, and the latter encodes an ARF-GEF (GNOM) protein involved in vesicle trafficking. Because both mutants are defective in hydrotropism but not in gravitropism, these mutations might affect a molecular mechanism unique to hydrotropism. MIZ1 is expressed in the lateral root cap and cortex of the root proper. It is localized as a soluble protein in the cytoplasm and in association with the cytoplasmic face of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membranes in root cells. Light and ABA independently regulate MIZ1 expression, which influences the ultimate hydrotropic response. In addition, MIZ1 overexpression results in an enhancement of hydrotropism and an inhibition of lateral root formation. This phenotype is likely related to the alteration of auxin content in roots. Specifically, the auxin level in the roots decreases in the MIZ1 overexpressor and increases in the miz1 mutant. Unlike most gnom mutants, miz2 displays normal morphology, growth, and gravitropism, with normal localization of PIN proteins. It is probable that MIZ1 plays a crucial role in hydrotropic response by regulating the endogenous level of auxin in Arabidopsis roots. Furthermore, the role of GNOM/MIZ2 in hydrotropism is distinct from that of gravitropism.
Research Containing: Tropism
Changes in operational procedures to improve spaceflight experiments in plant biology in the European Modular Cultivation System
The microgravity environment aboard orbiting spacecraft has provided a unique laboratory to explore topics in basic plant biology as well as applied research on the use of plants in bioregenerative life support systems. Our group has utilized the European Modular Cultivation System (EMCS) aboard the International Space Station (ISS) to study plant growth, development, tropisms, and gene expression in a series of spaceflight experiments. The most current project performed on the ISS was termed Seedling Growth-1 (SG-1) which builds on the previous TROPI (for tropisms) experiments performed in 2006 and 2010. Major technical and operational changes in SG-1 (launched in March 2013) compared to the TROPI experiments include: (1) improvements in lighting conditions within the EMCS to optimize the environment for phototropism studies, (2) the use of infrared illumination to provide high-quality images of the seedlings, (3) modifications in procedures used in flight to improve the focus and overall quality of the images, and (4) changes in the atmospheric conditions in the EMCS incubator. In SG-1, a novel red-light-based phototropism in roots and hypocotyls of seedlings that was noted in TROPI was confirmed and now can be more precisely characterized based on the improvements in procedures. The lessons learned from sequential experiments in the TROPI hardware provide insights to other researchers developing space experiments in plant biology.
In order to effectively study phototropism, the directed growth in response to light, we performed a series of experiments in microgravity to better understand light response without the “complications” of a 1-g stimulus. These experiments were named TROPI (for tropisms) and were performed on the European Modular Cultivation System (EMCS), a laboratory facility on the International Space Station (ISS). TROPI-1 was performed in 2006, and while it was a successful experiment, there were a number of technical difficulties. We had the opportunity to perform TROPI-2 in 2010 and were able to optimize experimental conditions as well as to extend the studies of phototropism to fractional gravity created by the EMCS centrifuge. This paper focuses on how the technical improvements in TROPI-2 allowed for a better experiment with increased scientific return. Major modifications in TROPI-2 compared to TROPI-1 included the use of spaceflight hardware that was off-gassed for a longer period and reduced seed storage (less than 2 months) in hardware. These changes resulted in increased seed germination and more vigorous growth of seedlings. While phototropism in response to red illumination was observed in hypocotyls of seedlings grown in microgravity during TROPI-1, there was a greater magnitude of red-light-based phototropic curvature in TROPI-2. Direct downlinking of digital images from the ISS in TROPI-2, rather than the use of analog tapes in TROPI-1, resulted in better quality images and simplified data analyses. In TROPI-2, improved cryo-procedures and the use of the GLACIER freezer during transport of samples back to Earth maintained the low temperature necessary to obtain good-quality RNA required for use in gene profiling studies.