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Shaping 3D root system architecture

Morris, Emily C.; Griffiths, Marcus; Golebiowska, Agata; Mairhofer, Stefan; Burr-Hersey, Jasmine; Goh, Tatsuaki; von Wangenheim, Daniel; Atkinson, Brian; Sturrock, Craig J.; Lynch, Jonathan P.; Vissenberg, Kris; Ritz, Karl; Wells, Darren M.; Mooney, Sacha J.; Bennett, Malcolm J.


Emily C. Morris

Marcus Griffiths

Agata Golebiowska

Stefan Mairhofer

Jasmine Burr-Hersey

Tatsuaki Goh

Daniel von Wangenheim

Brian Atkinson

Craig J. Sturrock

Jonathan P. Lynch

Kris Vissenberg

Karl Ritz

Darren M. Wells

Sacha J. Mooney


Plants are sessile organisms rooted in one place. The soil resources that plants require are often distributed in a highly heterogeneous pattern. To aid foraging, plants have evolved roots whose growth and development are highly responsive to soil signals. As a result, 3D root architecture is shaped by myriad environmental signals to ensure resource capture is optimised and unfavourable environments are avoided. The first signals sensed by newly germinating seeds — gravity and light — direct root growth into the soil to aid seedling establishment. Heterogeneous soil resources, such as water, nitrogen and phosphate, also act as signals that shape 3D root growth to optimise uptake. Root architecture is also modified through biotic interactions that include soil fungi and neighbouring plants. This developmental plasticity results in a ‘custom-made’ 3D root system that is best adapted to forage for resources in each soil environment that a plant colonises.

Journal Article Type Article
Journal Current Biology
Print ISSN 0960-9822
Electronic ISSN 1879-0445
Publisher Elsevier (Cell Press)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 27
Issue 17
Article Number R919-R930
APA6 Citation Morris, E. C., Griffiths, M., Golebiowska, A., Mairhofer, S., Burr-Hersey, J., Goh, T., …Bennett, M. J. (in press). Shaping 3D root system architecture. Current Biology, 27(17), doi:10.1016/j.cub.2017.06.043
Publisher URL
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://eprints.nottingh.../end_user_agreement.pdf