Cytochemical localization of calcium in cap cells of primary roots of Zea mays L.

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The distribution of calcium (Ca) in caps of vertically- and horizontally-oriented roots of Zea mays was monitored to determine its possible role in root graviresponsiveness. A modification of the antimonate precipitation procedure was used to localize Ca in situ. In vertically-oriented roots, the presumed graviperceptive (i.e., columella) cells were characterized by minimal and symmetric staining of the plasmalemma and mitochondria. No precipitate was present in plasmodesmata or cell walls. Within 5 min after horizontal reorientation, staining was associated with the portion of the cell wall adjacent to the distal end of the cell. This asymmetric staining persisted throughout the onset of gravicurvature. No staining of lateral cell walls of columella cells was observed at any stage of gravicurvature, suggesting that a lateral flow of Ca through the columella tissue of horizontally-oriented roots does not occur. The outermost peripheral cells of roots oriented horizontally and vertically secrete Ca through plasmodesmata-like structures in their cell walls. These results are discussed relative to proposed roles of root-cap Ca in root gravicurvature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-79
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of experimental botany
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1986

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This research was supported by grants from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the University Research Committee of Baylor University. I thank Eddie McClelen and Paula Davidson for their excellent technical assistance.


  • Antimonate
  • Calcium
  • Columella cell
  • Peripheral cell
  • Root gravitropism
  • Zea mays L.


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