Water stress is one of the major environmental stresses causing growth retardation and yield loss of plants. In the past decades, osmotic adjustment, antioxidant protection, and stomatal movement have been extensively studied, but much less attention has been paid to the study of root system reprogramming to maximize water absorption and survival under water stress. Here, it is shown that polyethylene glycol (PEG)-simulated mild and moderate osmotic stress induced premature differentiation of the root apical meristem (RAM). It is demonstrated that RAM premature differentiation is a conserved adaptive mechanism that is widely adopted by various plants to cope with osmotic stress simulated by PEG 8000, and the occurrence of RAM premature differentiation is directly related to stress tolerance of plants. It is shown that the osmotic stress-induced premature differentiation caused growth cessation of primary roots allowing outgrowth of lateral roots. This work has uncovered a key mechanism for controlling the plastic development of the root system by which plants are capable of survival, growth, or reproduction under water stress. © The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Experimental Biology.
Ji, H., Liu, L., Li, K., Xie, Q., Wang, Z., Zhao, X., & Li, X. (2014). PEG-mediated osmotic stress induces premature differentiation of the root apical meristem and outgrowth of lateral roots in wheat. Journal of Experimental Botany, 65(17), 4863–4872. https://doi.org/10.1093/jxb/eru255