Plant roots sense compacted soil through gaseous hormone signals

January 14, 2021

The volatile plant hormone ethylene allows plant roots to sense and avoid compacted soils, researchers report. Rendering roots insensitive to ethylene allowed them to penetrate compacted soils more effectively, the same group showed. The findings reveal how plants regulate their growth in response to soil compaction - a growing challenge facing modern agriculture worldwide - and could serve as a pathway for how breeders might select or develop new crops resilient to soil compaction. Driven in part by a growing reliance on heavy machinery and poor soil management practices, soil compaction can lead to declining crop yields by restricting root growth and limiting the availability and transport of water and nutrients. It's been intuitively assumed that many plants' roots often fail to grow in compacted soil simply because they cannot penetrate harder soils, leading to a cessation of growth. According to Binpin Pandey and colleagues, however, reduced root growth is not due to a physical inability to grow through compacted soil. Instead, the authors demonstrate how root growth is actively stymied by a build-up of ethylene - a gaseous plant hormone produced by root tissues. Pandey et al. evaluated the role of ethylene on rice plant root growth and found that mutant roots insensitive to ethylene were able to penetrate compacted soils more effectively than wildtype roots. The results suggest that ethylene will diffuse through loose and aerated soil - but not compacted soil, which hinders gas diffusion and causes the hormone to accumulate in root tissues until it triggers hormone responses that restrict growth.

For reporters interested in trends, a December 2020 study in Science by Ciro Cabal et al. addressed how one type of plant's root growth responds to root growth of nearby plants.

American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related Ethylene Articles from Brightsurf:

When plants attack: parasitic plants use ethylene as a host invasion signal
Researchers from Nara Institute of Science and Technology have found that parasitic plants use the plant hormone ethylene as a signal to invade host plants.

Common liverwort study has implications for crop manipulation
A new study on genetic pathways in the common liverwort could have future implications for crop manipulation.

A molecular break for root growth
The dynamic change in root growth of plants plays an important role in their adjustment to soil conditions.

Artificial cyanobacterial biofilm can sustain green ethylene production for over a month
Ethylene is one of the most important and widely used organic chemicals.

Researchers discover effective pathway to convert CO2 into ethylene
The scientists developed nanoscale copper wires with specially shaped surfaces to catalyze a chemical reaction that reduces greenhouse gas emissions while generating ethylene -- a valuable chemical simultaneously.

Trapping of acetylene
Ethylene, a key feedstock in the chemical industry, often includes traces of acetylene contaminants, which need to be removed.

The secret life of melons revealed: "Jumping sequences" may alter gene expression
Researchers from the University of Tsukuba have found in a comparison of melon genomes that retrotransposons (a.k.a.

UMD discovers a new role for a well-known molecule as a plant hormone
Researchers at the University of Maryland have discovered a new role for a well-known plant molecule, providing the first clear example of ACC acting as a likely plant hormone.

The secret to renewable solar fuels is an off-and-on again relationship
Copper that was once bound with oxygen is better at converting CO2 into renewable fuels than copper that was never bound to oxygen, according to Berkeley Lab and Caltech scientists.

Development of a small sensor capable of continuously monitoring the phytohormone ethylene
NIMS and AIST have developed a small sensor capable of continuously monitoring the plant hormone ethylene.

Read More: Ethylene News and Ethylene Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to