Date of this Version



Plant cortex, microtubule, ordering, alignment, stress



Morphological properties of tissues and organs rely on cell growth. The growth of plant cells is determined by properties of a tough outer cell wall that deforms anisotropically in response to high turgor pressure. Cortical microtubules bias the mechanical anisotropy of a cell wall by affecting the trajectories of cellulose synthases in the wall that polymerize cellulose microfibrils. The microtubule cytoskeleton is often oriented in one direction at cellular length-scales to regulate growth direction, but the means by which cellular-scale microtubule patterns emerge has not been well understood. Correlations between the microtubule orientation and tensile forces in the cell wall have often been observed. However, the plausibility of stress as a determining factor for microtubule patterning has not been directly evaluated to date.


Here, we simulated how different attributes of tensile forces in the cell wall can orient and pattern the microtubule array in the cortex. We implemented a discrete model with transient microtubule behaviors influenced by local mechanical stress in order to probe the mechanisms of stress-dependent patterning. Specifically, we varied the sensitivity of four types of dynamic behaviors observed on the plus end of microtubules – growth, shrinkage, catastrophe, and rescue – to local stress. Then, we evaluated the extent and rate of microtubule alignments in a two-dimensional computational domain that reflects the structural organization of the cortical array in plant cells.


Our modeling approaches reproduced microtubule patterns observed in simple cell types and demonstrated that a spatial variation in the magnitude and anisotropy of stress can mediate mechanical feedback between the wall and of the cortical microtubule array.


This is the published version of the Li, J., Szymanski, D.B. & Kim, T. Probing stress-regulated ordering of the plant cortical microtubule array via a computational approach. BMC Plant Biol 23, 308 (2023).