Shining Light at Microtubule Crossroads

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Science  06 Dec 2013:
Vol. 342, Issue 6163, pp. 1180-1181
DOI: 10.1126/science.1248235

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The microtubule cytoskeleton, the network of cable-like tubulin polymers found throughout the cytoplasm in all eukaryotic cells, is central to cell division and differentiation throughout biology. Nowhere is this more true than in the plant kingdom. Here, microtubule organization patterns the deposition of cellulose, the prime constituent of cell walls, thus controlling the ability of plants to grow in the direction of light, or phototropism. The research article by Lindeboom et al. on page 1202 of this issue (1), together with several recently published studies (2, 3), provides fundamental insights into the mechanism used by plants to switch the orientation of their cortical microtubule array, and therefore the morphology and function of the cells that harbor them, in response to light.