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Annu Rev Plant Biol. 2009;60:279-304. doi: 10.1146/annurev.arplant.59.032607.092819.

Environmental effects on spatial and temporal patterns of leaf and root growth.

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Institute of Chemistry and Dynamics of Geosphere ICG-3: Phytosphere Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, 52425 Jülich, Germany.


Leaves and roots live in dramatically different habitats, but are parts of the same organism. Automated image processing of time-lapse records of these organs has led to understanding of spatial and temporal patterns of growth on time scales from minutes to weeks. Growth zones in roots and leaves show distinct patterns during a diel cycle (24 h period). In dicot leaves under nonstressful conditions these patterns are characterized by endogenous rhythms, sometimes superimposed upon morphogenesis driven by environmental variation. In roots and monocot leaves the growth patterns depend more strongly on environmental fluctuations. Because the impact of spatial variations and temporal fluctuations of above- and belowground environmental parameters must be processed by the plant body as an entire system whose individual modules interact on different levels, growth reactions of individual modules are often highly nonlinear. A mechanistic understanding of plant resource use efficiency and performance in a dynamically fluctuating environment therefore requires an accurate analysis of leaf and root growth patterns in conjunction with knowledge of major intraplant communication systems and metabolic pathways.

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