Yellow deposits formation in roots is a part of tobacco plant phenotype under sulfur deficiency

  • Grzegorz Moniuszko Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Polish Academy of Sciences
  • Katarzyna Zientara-Rytter Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Polish Academy of Sciences ul. Pawinskiego 5A, 02-106 Warsaw, Poland


Background and Purpose: It is known that plants respond to sulfur (S) deficit by adapting their physiology and development. Nowadays, scientists concentrate on the cellular level of such response, studying molecular processes, often treating visual phenotypes as fully explored and obvious. The goal of this study was to challenge such believes and find a new visual phenotype of plants during their response to S deficit.

Materials and Methods: The macroscopic and microscopic observation of Nicotiana tabacum plants grown under sulfur deficiency or control condition was conducted. Additionally, the absorbance spectrum of ethanol extracts from plant roots was measured.

Results and Conclusions: In this study we showed that root color
changes from colorless to yellow after transfer to S deficiency conditions. Microscopic observation of yellow roots showed that their color is a result of the yellowish deposits formation inside the root epidermis cells. Next experiments allowed to narrow down the list of chemicals responsible for the observed root phenotype to UV absorbing compounds. Our results, taken together with the data available in literature, pointed to the phenolic compounds as the most probable component of yellowish deposits responsible for change of root color during plant response to S deficiency. The physiological
role of such accumulation is yet to be determined.