The root cap, a small tissue at the tip of the root, protects the root from environmental stress and functions in gravity perception. To perform its functions, the position and size of the root cap remains stable throughout root growth. This occurs due to constant root cap cell turnover, in which the last layer of the root cap is released, and new root cap cells are produced. Cells in the last root cap layer are known as border cells or border-like cells, and have important functions in root protection against bacterial and fungal pathogens. Despite the importance of root cap cell release to root health and plant growth, the mechanisms regulating this phenomenon are not well understood. Recent work identified several factors including transcription factors, auxin, and small peptides with roles in the production and release of root cap cells. Here, we review the involvement of the known players in root cap cell release, compare the release of border-like cells and border cells, and discuss the importance of root cap cell release to root health and survival.
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