Wound healing in the Arabidopsis root meristem

Hörmayer L. 2021. Wound healing in the Arabidopsis root meristem. IST Austria.

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IST Austria Thesis
Blood – this is what animals use to heal wounds fast and efficient. Plants do not have blood circulation and their cells cannot move. However, plants have evolved remarkable capacities to regenerate tissues and organs preventing further damage. In my PhD research, I studied the wound healing in the Arabidopsis root. I used a UV laser to ablate single cells in the root tip and observed the consequent wound healing. Interestingly, the inner adjacent cells induced a division plane switch and subsequently adopted the cell type of the killed cell to replace it. We termed this form of wound healing “restorative divisions”. This initial observation triggered the questions of my PhD studies: How and why do cells orient their division planes, how do they feel the wound and why does this happen only in inner adjacent cells. For answering these questions, I used a quite simple experimental setup: 5 day - old seedlings were stained with propidium iodide to visualize cell walls and dead cells; ablation was carried out using a special laser cutter and a confocal microscope. Adaptation of the novel vertical microscope system made it possible to observe wounds in real time. This revealed that restorative divisions occur at increased frequency compared to normal divisions. Additionally, the major plant hormone auxin accumulates in wound adjacent cells and drives the expression of the wound-stress responsive transcription factor ERF115. Using this as a marker gene for wound responses, we found that an important part of wound signalling is the sensing of the collapse of the ablated cell. The collapse causes a radical pressure drop, which results in strong tissue deformations. These deformations manifest in an invasion of the now free spot specifically by the inner adjacent cells within seconds, probably because of higher pressure of the inner tissues. Long-term imaging revealed that those deformed cells continuously expand towards the wound hole and that this is crucial for the restorative division. These wound-expanding cells exhibit an abnormal, biphasic polarity of microtubule arrays before the division. Experiments inhibiting cell expansion suggest that it is the biphasic stretching that induces those MT arrays. Adapting the micromanipulator aspiration system from animal scientists at our institute confirmed the hypothesis that stretching influences microtubule stability. In conclusion, this shows that microtubules react to tissue deformation and this facilitates the observed division plane switch. This puts mechanical cues and tensions at the most prominent position for explaining the growth and wound healing properties of plants. Hence, it shines light onto the importance of understanding mechanical signal transduction.
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Hörmayer L. Wound healing in the Arabidopsis root meristem. 2021. doi:10.15479/at:ista:9992
Hörmayer, L. (2021). Wound healing in the Arabidopsis root meristem. IST Austria. https://doi.org/10.15479/at:ista:9992
Hörmayer, Lukas. “Wound Healing in the Arabidopsis Root Meristem.” IST Austria, 2021. https://doi.org/10.15479/at:ista:9992.
L. Hörmayer, “Wound healing in the Arabidopsis root meristem,” IST Austria, 2021.
Hörmayer L. 2021. Wound healing in the Arabidopsis root meristem. IST Austria.
Hörmayer, Lukas. Wound Healing in the Arabidopsis Root Meristem. IST Austria, 2021, doi:10.15479/at:ista:9992.
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