Root system architecture arises from coupling cell shape to auxin transport

December 15, 2008

Plants come in all shapes and sizes, from grand Redwood trees to the common Snowdrop. Although we cannot see them, under the ground plants rely on a complex network of roots. What determines the pattern of root growth has been a mystery, but a new paper published this week in PLoS Biology shows that the shape of the existing root can determine how further roots branch from it - because shape determines hormone concentration. The work also suggests that the root-patterning system shares a deep evolutionary relationship to the patterning system of plant shoots, something that had not been realized previously.

The paper, by Laskowski, Grieneisen, Hofhuis, et al, explores the architecture of the root system of the model organism Arabidopsis thaliana, a plant with the unusual common name "mouse-ear cress." The authors show that the curve of the root is key in provoking new growth. They used computational modeling of the transport of a well-known plant hormone, auxin, and by following the diffusion of this hormone they reveal that its accumulation leads to the specification of new growth regions in the root structure.

In particular, the initial trigger of this accumulation is a difference in cell size between the inner and outer sides of a root curve, which is then amplified by feedback responses from the hormone transport system.

Surprisingly, this new model on root architecture is reminiscent of the way leaves develop around growing tips in plant - a key feature of shoot architecture. This is exciting because it suggests that a deep connection exists between both root and shoot architectures - which have hitherto been viewed upon as being entirely separate. The work further shows that a new kind of biology, involving complete mixing of experiments and computer modeling, is a very powerful tool in probing organismal architecture.
-end-
Citation: Laskowski M, Grieneisen VA, Hofhuis H, ten Hove CA , Hogeweg P, et al. (2008) Root system architecture from coupling cell shape to auxin transport. PLoS Biol 6(12): e307. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0060307

PLEASE ADD THE LINK TO THE PUBLISHED ARTICLE IN ONLINE VERSIONS OF YOUR REPORT: http://biology.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371/journal.pbio.0060307

PRESS ONLY PREVIEW OF THE ARTICLE: http://www.plos.org/press/plbi-06-12-Scheres.pdf

CONTACT
Ben Scheres
Utrecht University
Department of Biology
Padualaan 8
Utrecht, 3584 CH
Netherlands
b.scheres@uu.nl

PLOS

Related Biology Articles from Brightsurf:

Experimental Biology press materials available now
Though the Experimental Biology (EB) 2020 meeting was canceled in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, EB research abstracts are being published in the April 2020 issue of The FASEB Journal.

Structural biology: Special delivery
Bulky globular proteins require specialized transport systems for insertion into membranes.

Cell biology: All in a flash!
Scientists of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich have developed a tool to eliminate essential proteins from cells with a flash of light.

A biology boost
Assistance during the first years of a biology major leads to higher retention of first-generation students.

Cell biology: Compartments and complexity
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich biologists have taken a closer look at the subcellular distribution of proteins and metabolic intermediates in a model plant.

Cell biology: The complexity of division by two
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich researchers have identified a novel protein that plays a crucial role in the formation of the mitotic spindle, which is essential for correct segregation of a full set of chromosomes to each daughter cell during cell division.

Cell biology: Dynamics of microtubules
Filamentous polymers called microtubules play vital roles in chromosome segregation and molecular transport.

The biology of color
Scientists are on a threshold of a new era of color science with regard to animals, according to a comprehensive review of the field by a multidisciplinary team of researchers led by professor Tim Caro at UC Davis.

Kinky biology
How and why proteins fold is a problem that has implications for protein design and therapeutics.

A new tool to decipher evolutionary biology
A new bioinformatics tool to compare genome data has been developed by teams from the Max F.

Read More: Biology News and Biology Current Events
Brightsurf.com 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 Amazon.com.