Mechanisms of the early phases of plant gravitropism

CRC Crit Rev Plant Sci. 2000;19(6):551-73. doi: 10.1080/07352680091139295.


Gravitropism is directed growth of a plant or plant organ in response to gravity and can be divided into the following temporal sequence: perception, transduction, and response. This article is a review of the research on the early events of gravitropism (i.e., phenomena associated with the perception and transduction phases). The two major hypotheses for graviperception are the protoplast-pressure and starch-statolith models. While most researchers support the concept of statoliths, there are suggestions that plants have multiple mechanisms of perception. Evidence supports the hypothesis that the actin cytoskeleton is involved in graviperception/transduction, but the details of these mechanisms remain elusive. A number of recent developments, such as increased use of the molecular genetic approach, magnetophoresis, and laser ablation, have facilitated research in graviperception and have allowed for refinement of the current models. In addition, the entire continuum of acceleration forces from hypo- to hyper-gravity have been useful in studying perception mechanisms. Future interdisciplinary molecular approaches and the availability of sophisticated laboratories on the International Space Station should help to develop new insights into mechanisms of gravitropism in plants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Gravitation*
  • Gravitropism / physiology*
  • Gravity Sensing / physiology*
  • Plant Cells
  • Plant Development*
  • Plant Physiological Phenomena
  • Plants / ultrastructure
  • Plastids / physiology
  • Protoplasts / physiology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Space Flight
  • Weightlessness