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G3 (Bethesda). 2011 Jul;1(2):105-15. doi: 10.1534/g3.111.000331. Epub 2011 Jul 1.

A QTL Study for Regions Contributing to Arabidopsis thaliana Root Skewing on Tilted Surfaces.

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Laboratory of Genetics, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin 53706.


Plant root systems must grow in a manner that is dictated by endogenous genetic pathways, yet sensitive to environmental input. This allows them to provide the plant with water and nutrients while navigating a heterogeneous soil environment filled with obstacles, toxins, and pests. Gravity and touch, which constitute important cues for roots growing in soil, have been shown to modulate root architecture by altering growth patterns. This is illustrated by Arabidopsis thaliana roots growing on tilted hard agar surfaces. Under these conditions, the roots are exposed to both gravity and touch stimulation. Consequently, they tend to skew their growth away from the vertical and wave along the surface. This complex growth behavior is believed to help roots avoid obstacles in nature. Interestingly, A. thaliana accessions display distinct growth patterns under these conditions, suggesting the possibility of using this variation as a tool to identify the molecular mechanisms that modulate root behavior in response to their mechanical environment. We have used the Cvi/Ler recombinant inbred line population to identify quantitative trait loci that contribute to root skewing on tilted hard agar surfaces. A combination of fine mapping for one of these QTL and microarray analysis of expression differences between Cvi and Ler root tips identifies a region on chromosome 2 as contributing to root skewing on tilted surfaces, potentially by modulating cell wall composition.


Arabidopsis; cis-prenyltransferase; root; skewing; waving

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