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New Phytol. 2007;176(1):37-43. Epub 2007 Aug 10.

Waving and skewing: how gravity and the surface of growth media affect root development in Arabidopsis.

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Laboratory of Plant Physiology, University of Geneva, Quai Ernest-Ansermet 30, CH-1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland.


Arabidopsis seedlings growing on inclined agar surfaces exhibit characteristic root behaviours called 'waving' and 'skewing': the former consists of a series of undulations, whereas the latter is a deviation from the direction of gravity. Even though the precise basis of these growth patterns is not well understood, both gravity and the contact between the medium and the root are considered to be the major players that result in these processes. The influence of these forces on root surface-dependent behaviours can be verified by growing seedlings at different gel pitches: plants growing on vertical plates present roots with slight waving and skewing when compared with seedlings grown on plates held at minor angles of < 90 degrees . However, other factors are thought to modulate root growth on agar; for instance, it has been demonstrated that the presence and concentration of certain compounds in the medium (such as sucrose) and of drugs able to modify the plant cell cytoskeleton also affect skewing and waving. The recent discovery of an active role of ethylene on surface-dependent root behaviour, and the finding of new mutants showing anomalous growth, pave the way for a more detailed description of these phenomena.

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