From: Florida Institute of Technology
Published September 13, 2017 04:58 PM

Florida Tech Research Finds Roots Use Chemical 'Photos' to Coordinate Growth

Though it may look haphazard, the network of intertwining plant roots snaking through the soil actually represents a deliberate process. Root growth is guided by chemical snapshots taken by young roots, allowing them to detect obstructions and coordinate the paths they take, new research led by Florida Institute of Technology finds.

Roots compete for and share resources with neighboring roots, as well as with billions of microbes. Until now, however, little has been known about how plants coordinate construction of these complex subterranean assemblies.

The new paper, “Redox-mediated Quorum Sensing in Plants,” published Sept. 13 in PLOS ONE, is based on collaborative research by scientists at Florida Tech, Emory University and the University of Richmond. It answers some of the fundamental questions about how plants coordinate their growth and development in the soil.

Read more at Florida Institute of Technology

Image: Simple model for ‘quorum’ or collision sensing in Arabidopsis. 

(A) A growing lateral root from a young seedling encounters an established plant (red box).

(B) Within a certain distance, ROS produced by the tip of the growing seedling contributes to oxidation of cell wall associated phenols to yield BQs (red arrow). DMBQ is shown here as an example. These BQs accumulate, contribute to the autocatalytic production of new ROS intermediates, amplify the signal (green arrow).

(C) Evidence of an established root system arrests root elongation in a quorum-like process, regulating global root system architecture.  

Image Credit: Florida Institute of Technology

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