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Agronomy 2016, 6(1), 5; doi:10.3390/agronomy6010005

Extracellular Trapping of Soil Contaminants by Root Border Cells: New Insights into Plant Defense

Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA
Water Resources Research Center, 350 N. Campbell Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85719, USA
Universidad de Sonora, Unidad Regional Norte Caborca, Mexico
Southern Arizona Buffelgrass Coordination Center, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, 85721, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Leslie A. Weston and Xiaocheng Zhu
Received: 6 November 2015 / Revised: 23 December 2015 / Accepted: 5 January 2016 / Published: 12 January 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Interactions between Plant Rhizosphere and Soil Organisms)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [2583 KB, uploaded 12 January 2016]   |  


Soil and water pollution by metals and other toxic chemicals is difficult to measure and control, and, as such, presents an ongoing global threat to sustainable agriculture and human health. Efforts to remove contaminants by plant-mediated pathways, or “phytoremediation”, though widely studied, have failed to yield consistent, predictable removal of biological and chemical contaminants. Emerging research has revealed that one major limitation to using plants to clean up the environment is that plants are programmed to protect themselves: Like white blood cells in animals, border cells released from plant root tips carry out an extracellular trapping process to neutralize threats and prevent injury to the host. Variability in border cell trapping has been found to be correlated with variation in sensitivity of roots to aluminum, and removal of border cell results in increased Al uptake into the root tip. Studies now have implicated border cells in responses of diverse plant roots to a range of heavy metals, including arsenic, copper, cadmium, lead, mercury, iron, and zinc. A better understanding of border cell extracellular traps and their role in preventing toxin uptake may facilitate efforts to use plants as a nondestructive approach to neutralize environmental threats. View Full-Text
Keywords: root border cells; extracellular DNA; neutrophil extracellular traps; rhizofiltration; heavy metals root border cells; extracellular DNA; neutrophil extracellular traps; rhizofiltration; heavy metals

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Hawes, M.C.; McLain, J.; Ramirez-Andreotta, M.; Curlango-Rivera, G.; Flores-Lara, Y.; Brigham, L.A. Extracellular Trapping of Soil Contaminants by Root Border Cells: New Insights into Plant Defense. Agronomy 2016, 6, 5.

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