PerspectivePlant Science

Multikingdom diffusion barrier control

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Science  08 Jan 2021:
Vol. 371, Issue 6525, pp. 125
DOI: 10.1126/science.abf5591

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Summary

Despite their differences in evolutionary history, both plants and animals have evolved specialized barrier systems to control their interaction with the external world. Such barriers are crucial for selective nutrient uptake. In the animal gut, epithelial cells that are firmly connected by tight junctions play a key role. In plants, nutrient uptake occurs in the root, where a cell layer called the endodermis plays a similar role to the gut epithelium. The diffusion barriers around the endodermis separate the inside of the plant from the outside and allow the endodermal cells to determine which nutrients are taken up. As in the animal gut, the root microbiome is influential for nutrient uptake. On page 143 of this issue, Salas-González et al. (1) reveal an interplay of the developing endodermis and microbes that is tightly related to a plant's ability to take up nutrients efficiently.

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