Agronomy and Horticulture Department


Date of this Version



Plant Physiology, December 2007, Vol. 145, pp. 1533–1548;


Previous work on the adaptation of maize (Zea mays) primary roots to water deficit showed that cell elongation is maintained preferentially toward the apex, and that this response involves modification of cell wall extension properties. To gain a comprehensive understanding of how cell wall protein (CWP) composition changes in association with the differential growth responses to water deficit in different regions of the elongation zone, a proteomics approach was used to examine water soluble and loosely ionically bound CWPs. The results revealed major and predominantly region-specific changes in protein profiles between well-watered and water-stressed roots. In total, 152 water deficit-responsive proteins were identified and categorized into five groups based on their potential function in the cell wall: reactive oxygen species (ROS) metabolism, defense and detoxification, hydrolases, carbohydrate metabolism, and other/unknown. The results indicate that stress-induced changes in CWPs involve multiple processes that are likely to regulate the response of cell elongation. In particular, the changes in protein abundance related to ROS metabolism predicted an increase in apoplastic ROS production in the apical region of the elongation zone of water-stressed roots. This was verified by quantification of hydrogen peroxide content in extracted apoplastic fluid and by in situ imaging of apoplastic ROS levels. This response could contribute directly to the enhancement of wall loosening in this region. This large-scale proteomic analysis provides novel insights into the complexity of mechanisms that regulate root growth under water deficit conditions and highlights the spatial differences in CWP composition in the root elongation zone.