The kinetics of root gravitropism: dual motors and sensors

J Plant Growth Regul. 2002 Jun;21(2):102-12. doi: 10.1007/s003440010053. Epub 2002 May 24.


The Cholodny-Went theory of tropisms has served as a framework for investigation of root gravitropism for nearly three quarters of a century. Recent investigations using modern techniques have generated findings consistent with the classical theory, including confirmation of asymmetrical distribution of polar auxin transport carriers, molecular evidence for auxin asymmetry following gravistimulation, and generation of auxin response mutants with predictable lesions in gravitropism. Other results indicate that the classical model is inadequate to account for key features of root gravitropism. Initiation of curvature, for example, occurs outside the region of most rapid elongation and is driven by differential acceleration rather than differential inhibition of elongation. The evidence indicates that there are two motors driving root gravitropism, one of which appears not to be auxin regulated. We have recently developed technology that is capable of maintaining a constant angle of gravistimulation at any selected target region of a root while continuously monitoring growth and curvature kinetics. This review elaborates on the advantages of this new technology for analyzing gravitropism and describes applications of the technology that reveal (1) the existence of at least two phases to gravitropic motor output, even under conditions of constant stimulus input and (2) the existence of gravity sensing outside of the root cap. We propose a revised model of root gravitropism including dual sensors and dual motors interacting to accomplish root gravitropism, with only one of the systems linked to the classical Cholodny-Went theory.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Centrifugation / instrumentation
  • Electricity
  • Electrophysiology
  • Gravitation*
  • Gravitropism / physiology*
  • Gravity Sensing / physiology
  • Indoleacetic Acids / physiology
  • Models, Biological
  • Plant Root Cap / growth & development
  • Plant Root Cap / physiology
  • Plant Roots / growth & development*
  • Plant Roots / physiology
  • Rotation*
  • Tropism


  • Indoleacetic Acids