Clarifying the mechanism of vacuole formation in root-tip cells

January 16, 2019

3D analysis of the vacuole formation process with an electron microscope

Plant vacuoles are intracellular organelles that play an important role in the growth and development of roots and leaves. There are currently two different models of vacuole formation: 1) Large vacuoles are created by the fusion of multivesicular bodies (MVBs) originating from the Golgi body and 2) Small vacuoles that originate from the endoplasmic reticulum expand to become large vacuoles.

RIKEN CSRS, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, North Caroline State University and Japan’s National Institute of Basic Biology have elucidated this process of plant vacuole formation using 3D electron tomography in an international collaborative research projects. Researchers used state-of-the-art electron microscopes to carry out a 3D reconstruction of the cortical layer of Arabidopsis root cells, finding that MVBs fused to make small vacuoles, and these small vacuoles subsequently fused to make large vacuoles.

These research results clarify the long-standing mystery of the vacuole formation mechanism related to the growth and development of plants. If artificial control of this formation mechanism can be achieved, it could lead to improved vacuolar functions that would result in plant growth improvements and accumulation of useful substances.

Original article
Nature Plants doi:10.1038/s41477-018-0328-1
Y. Cui, W. Cao, Y. He, Q. Zhao, M. Wakazaki, X. Zhuang, J. Gao, Y. Zeng, C. Gao, Y. Ding, H. Y. Wong, W. S. Wong, H. K. Lam, P. Wang, T. Ueda, M. Rojas-Pierce, K. Toyooka, B.-H. Kang, L. Jiang,
"A whole-cell electron tomography model of vacuole biogenesis in Arabidopsis root cells".

Kiminori Toyooka; Senior Technical Scientist
Mayumi Wakazaki; Technical Staff II
Mass Spectrometry and Microscopy Unit