J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 2020, Vol. 62 ›› Issue (7): 984-997.DOI: 10.1111/jipb.12942

Special Issue: Root development

• Molecular Physiology • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Aluminium is essential for root growth and development of tea plants (Camellia sinensis )

Lili Sun1†, Mengshi Zhang1†, Xiaomei Liu1, Qianzhuo Mao2, Chen Shi1, Leon V. Kochian3 and Hong Liao1*   

  1. 1Root Biology Center, College of Resources and Environment, Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, Fuzhou 350002, China
    2Vector‐Borne Virus Research Center, Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, Fuzhou 350002, China
    3Global Institute for Food Security, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon S7N 4J8, Canada

    These authors contributed equally to this work.
    Email: Hong Liao (hliao@fafu.edu.cn)
  • Received:2020-02-02 Accepted:2020-04-14 Online:2020-04-22 Published:2020-07-01


On acid soils, the trivalent aluminium ion (Al3+) predominates and is very rhizotoxic to most plant species. For some native plant species adapted to acid soils including tea (Camellia sinensis ), Al3+ has been regarded as a beneficial mineral element. In this study, we discovered that Al3+ is actually essential for tea root growth and development in all the tested varieties. Aluminum ion promoted new root growth in five representative tea varieties with dose‐dependent responses to Al3+ availability. In the absence of Al3+, the tea plants failed to generate new roots, and the root tips were damaged within 1 d of Al deprivation. Structural analysis of root tips demonstrated that Al was required for root meristem development and activity. In situ morin staining of Al3+ in roots revealed that Al mainly localized to nuclei in root meristem cells, but then gradually moved to the cytosol when Al3+ was subsequently withdrawn. This movement of Al3+ from nuclei to cytosols was accompanied by exacerbated DNA damage, which suggests that the nuclear‐targeted Al primarily acts to maintain DNA integrity. Taken together, these results provide novel evidence that Al3+ is essential for root growth in tea plants through maintenance of DNA integrity in meristematic cells.

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