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1.  Development and persistence of sandsheaths of Lyginia barbata (Restionaceae): relation to root structural development and longevity 
Annals of Botany  2011;108(7):1307-1322.
Background and Aims
Strongly coherent sandsheaths that envelop perennial roots of many monocotyledonous species of arid environments have been described for over a century. This study, for the first time, details the roles played by the structural development of the subtending roots in the formation and persistence of the sheaths.
The structural development of root tissues associated with persistent sandsheaths was studied in Lyginia barbata, native to the Western Australian sand plains. Cryo-scanning electron microscopy CSEM, optical microscopy and specific staining methods were applied to fresh, field material. The role of root hairs was clarified by monitoring sheath development in roots separated from the sand profile by fine mesh.
Key Results and Conclusions
The formation of the sheaths depends entirely on the numerous living root hairs which extend into the sand and track closely around individual grains enmeshing, by approx. 12 cm from the root tip, a volume of sand more than 14 times that of the subtending root. The longevity of the perennial sheaths depends on the subsequent development of the root hairs and of the epidermis and cortex. Before dying, the root hairs develop cellulosic walls approx. 3 µm thick, incrusted with ferulic acid and lignin, which persist for the life of the sheath. The dead hairs remain in place fused to a persistent platform of sclerified epidermis and outer cortex. The mature cortex comprises this platform, a wide, sclerified inner rim and a lysigenous central region – all dead tissue. We propose that the sandsheath/root hair/epidermis/cortex complex is a structural unit facilitating water and nutrient uptake while the tissues are alive, recycling scarce phosphorus during senescence, and forming, when dead, a persistent essential structure for maintenance of a functional stele in the perennial Lyginia roots.
PMCID: PMC3197463  PMID: 21969258
CSEM; lignified and suberized root hairs; Lyginia barbata; perennial drought-tolerant roots; persistent root hairs; phosphorus recycling; Restionaceae; rhizosheaths; root hair histochemistry; sandbinding roots
2.  Root Structure and Functioning for Efficient Acquisition of Phosphorus: Matching Morphological and Physiological Traits 
Annals of Botany  2006;98(4):693-713.
• Background Global phosphorus (P) reserves are being depleted, with half-depletion predicted to occur between 2040 and 2060. Most of the P applied in fertilizers may be sorbed by soil, and not be available for plants lacking specific adaptations. On the severely P-impoverished soils of south-western Australia and the Cape region in South Africa, non-mycorrhizal species exhibit highly effective adaptations to acquire P. A wide range of these non-mycorrhizal species, belonging to two monocotyledonous and eight dicotyledonous families, produce root clusters. Non-mycorrhizal species with root clusters appear to be particularly effective at accessing P when its availability is extremely low.
• Scope There is a need to develop crops that are highly effective at acquiring inorganic P (Pi) from P-sorbing soils. Traits such as those found in non-mycorrhizal root-cluster-bearing species in Australia, South Africa and other P-impoverished environments are highly desirable for future crops. Root clusters combine a specialized structure with a specialized metabolism. Native species with such traits could be domesticated or crossed with existing crop species. An alternative approach would be to develop future crops with root clusters based on knowledge of the genes involved in development and functioning of root clusters.
• Conclusions Root clusters offer enormous potential for future research of both a fundamental and a strategic nature. New discoveries of the development and functioning of root clusters in both monocotyledonous and dicotyledonous families are essential to produce new crops with superior P-acquisition traits.
PMCID: PMC2806175  PMID: 16769731
Actinorhizal; capillaroid roots; carboxylates; Casuarinaceae; cluster roots; Cyperaceae; dauciform roots; exudation; Fabaceae; Proteaceae; proteoid roots; Restionaceae

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