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Lateral roots of intact summer squash seedlings (Cucurbita pepo L.) were used to quantify the effects of boron deficiency on DNA synthesis, protein synthesis, and respiration. The temporal relationship between changes in these metabolic activities and the cessation of root elongation caused by boron deprivation was determined. Transferring 5-day-old squash seedlings to a hydroponic culture medium without boron for 6 hours resulted in a 62% reduction in net root elongation and a 30% decrease in the incorporation of [3H]thymidine into DNA by root tips (apical 5-millimeter segments). At this time, root tips from both boron-deficient and boron-sufficient plants exhibited nearly identical rates of incorporation of [14C]leucine into protein and respiration as measured by O2 consumption. After an additional 6 hours of boron deprivation, root elongation had nearly ceased. Concomitantly, DNA synthesis in root apices was 66% less than in the boron-sufficient control plants and protein synthesis was reduced 43%. O2 consumption remained the same for both treatments. The decline and eventual cessation of root elongation correlated temporally with the decrease in DNA synthesis, but preceded changes in protein synthesis and respiration. These results suggest that boron is required for continued DNA synthesis and cell division in root meristems.