Background and Aims In the present study, we show that development of endodermis and exodermis is sensitively regulated by water accessibility. As cadmium (Cd) is known to induce xeromorphic effects in plants, maize roots were exposed also to Cd to understand the developmental process of suberin lamella deposition in response to a local Cd source.
Methods In a first experiment, maize roots were cultivated in vitro and unilaterally exposed to water-containing medium from one side and to air from the other. In a second experiment, the roots were placed between two agar medium layers with a strip of Cd-containing medium attached locally and unilaterally to the root surface.
Key Results The development of suberin lamella (the second stage of exodermal and endodermal development) started asymmetrically, preferentially closer to the root tip on the side exposed to the air. In the root contact with Cd in a spatially limited area exposed to one side of the root, suberin lamella was preferentially developed in the contact region and additionally along the whole length of the root basipetally from the contact area. However, the development was unilateral and asymmetrical, facing the treated side. The same pattern occurred irrespective of the distance of Cd application from the root apex.
Conclusions These developmental characteristics indicate a sensitive response of root endodermis and exodermis in the protection of vascular tissues against abiotic stresses.