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Aluminum (Al) toxicity primarily targets the root tips, inhibiting root growth and function and leading to crop yield losses on acidic soils. Previously we reported using laser capture microdissection (LCM) proteomics to identify Al-induced proteins in the outer layer cells in the transitional zone of tomato root-tips. This study aims to further characterize Al-induced proteomic dynamics from the outer to interior tissues, thus providing a panoramic view reflecting Al resistance in the root tip as a whole in tomatoes. Three types of cells were isolated via LCM from the basal 350–400 μm (below cell elongation regions) of root tips using tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) ‘Micro-Tom’ plants. Type I and Type II were from Al-treated plants. Type I included cells of the outer three layers, i.e., the epidermis and cortex initials and the quiescent center (QC) in root apical meristem (RAM), and Type II possessed the interior tissues of the same region. Type III contained cells from the non-Al-treated root tips collected in the same region as Type I. Two tandem mass tag (TMT) proteomics analyses with three biological replicates for each sample type were conducted. The TMTexp1 (comparing Type I and Type II) identified 6575 quantifiable proteins and 178 different abundance proteins (DAPs). The TMTexp2 (comparing Type I and Type III) identified 7197 quantifiable proteins and 162 DAPs. Among all quantified proteins (7685) from the two TMT experiments, 6088 (79%) proteins, including 313 DAPs (92% of the 340 total), were identified in all tissues. A model reflecting the tissue-specific Al-resistance mechanism was proposed, in which the level of the citrate transporter MATE protein, involved in Al exclusion, accumulated to the highest level in the outer-layer cells but decreased toward the interior of root-tips (which concurs with the tissue-specific importance in Al resistance). Proteins for biosynthesis of ethylene and jasmonic acid, proteolytic enzymes, stress-responsive proteins, and cell wall modeling were affected by Al treatment, some in a cell type-specific manner. The KEGG metabolite pathways enriched with these DAPs changed depending on the cell types. This study demonstrated the advantage of using the tissue/cell-specific analysis for identifying proteins and their dynamic changes directly associated with Al resistance in the root-tip region. The proteomics datasets have been deposited to the ProteomeXchange Consortium via the PRIDE partner repository ( with the dataset identifier as PXD021994 under project title: Proteomics studies of outer and inner cellular layers of tomato root-tips for Al stress, Project DOI: 10.6019/ PXD021994; and PXD018234 under Project title: Al-induced root proteomics changes in stress-acclimated tomato plant, Project DOI:


This paper presents the method of using laser capture microdissection (LCM) to collect homogenous cell-type specific tissue samples from the outer layers and inner central regions of tomato root-tips. The tandem mass tag-proteomics analysis showed that the outer-layer cells expressed proteomes that were different from the inner tissues of Al-treated root-tips; proteins related to resistance/tolerance to Al toxicity were highly accumulated in the outer-layer cells. Furthermore, the Al-treated outer-layer cells expressed proteomes which were different from the non-Al treated counterpart cells. This study has provided the first dataset of proteins differentiating from the outer to inner layers of cells in Al-treated root-tips. It provided convincing experimental evidences demonstrating the single-cell type proteomics as a powerful analytical approach to identify Al tolerance mechanisms in plants. The analytical procedure of LCM-tandem mass tag-quantitative proteomics analysis has a broad application for proteomics analysis of spatially separated cells in complex tissues.