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The endodermis in roots acts as a selectivity filter for nutrient and water transport essential for growth and development. This selectivity is enabled by the formation of lignin-based Casparian strips. Casparian strip formation is initiated by the localization of the Casparian strip domain proteins (CASPs) in the plasma membrane, at the site where the Casparian strip will form. Localized CASPs recruit Peroxidase 64 (PER64), a Respiratory Burst Oxidase Homolog F, and Enhanced Suberin 1 (ESB1), a dirigent-like protein, to assemble the lignin polymerization machinery. However, the factors that control both expression of the genes encoding this biosynthetic machinery and its localization to the Casparian strip formation site remain unknown. Here, we identify the transcription factor, MYB36, essential for Casparian strip formation. MYB36 directly and positively regulates the expression of the Casparian strip genes CASP1, PER64, and ESB1. Casparian strips are absent in plants lacking a functional MYB36 and are replaced by ectopic lignin-like material in the corners of endodermal cells. The barrier function of Casparian strips in these plants is also disrupted. Significantly, ectopic expression of MYB36 in the cortex is sufficient to reprogram these cells to start expressing CASP1–GFP, correctly localize the CASP1–GFP protein to form a Casparian strip domain, and deposit a Casparian strip-like structure in the cell wall at this location. These results demonstrate that MYB36 is controlling expression of the machinery required to locally polymerize lignin in a fine band in the cell wall for the formation of the Casparian strip.

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