New root hair phenotypes discovered
Trichomes show 47 morphological phenotypes, while literature reports only two root hair phenotypes in all plants. However, could hair-like structures exist below-ground in a similar wide range of morphologies like trichomes? Genetic mutants and root hair stress phenotypes point to the possibility of uncharacterized morphological variation existing belowground. For example, such root hairs in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) can be wavy, curled, or branched. We found hints in the literature about hair-like structures that emerge before root hairs belowground. As such, these early emerging hair structures can be potential exceptions to the contrasting morphological variation between trichomes and root hairs. Here, we show a previously unreported ‘hooked’ hair structure growing below-ground in common bean. The unique ‘hooking’ shape distinguishes the ‘hooked hair’ morphologically from root hairs. Currently, we cannot fully characterize the phenotype of our observation due to the lack of automated methods for phenotyping root hairs. This phenotyping bottleneck also handicaps the discovery of more morphology types that might exist below-ground as manual screening across species is slower than computer-assisted high-throughput screening.
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