Chitosan is a natural polymer with applications in agriculture, which causes plasma membrane permeabilisation and induction of intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) in plants. Chitosan has been mostly applied in the phylloplane to control plant diseases and to enhance plant defences, but has also been considered for controlling root pests. However, the effect of chitosan on roots is virtually unknown. In this work, we show that chitosan interfered with auxin homeostasis in Arabidopsis roots, promoting a 2–3 fold accumulation of indole acetic acid (IAA). We observed chitosan dose-dependent alterations of auxin synthesis, transport and signalling in Arabidopsis roots. As a consequence, high doses of chitosan reduce WOX5 expression in the root apical meristem and arrest root growth. Chitosan also propitiates accumulation of salicylic (SA) and jasmonic (JA) acids in Arabidopsis roots by induction of genes involved in their biosynthesis and signalling. In addition, high-dose chitosan irrigation of tomato and barley plants also arrests root development. Tomato root apices treated with chitosan showed isodiametric cells respect to rectangular cells in the controls. We found that chitosan causes strong alterations in root cell morphology. Our results highlight the importance of considering chitosan dose during agronomical applications to the rhizosphere.
Scientific Reports – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 1, 2017
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