Canalization: what the flux?

Trends Genet. 2014 Feb;30(2):41-8. doi: 10.1016/j.tig.2013.11.001. Epub 2013 Nov 30.


Polarized transport of the hormone auxin plays crucial roles in many processes in plant development. A self-organizing pattern of auxin transport--canalization--is thought to be responsible for vascular patterning and shoot branching regulation in flowering plants. Mathematical modeling has demonstrated that membrane localization of PIN-FORMED (PIN)-family auxin efflux carriers in proportion to net auxin flux can plausibly explain canalization and possibly other auxin transport phenomena. Other plausible models have also been proposed, and there has recently been much interest in producing a unified model of all auxin transport phenomena. However, it is our opinion that lacunae in our understanding of auxin transport biology are now limiting progress in developing the next generation of models. Here we examine several key areas where significant experimental advances are necessary to address both biological and theoretical aspects of auxin transport, including the possibility of a unified transport model.

Keywords: auxin; auxin transport; canalization; mathematical modeling; self-organization.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Biological Transport
  • Indoleacetic Acids / metabolism
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Plant Development
  • Plant Growth Regulators / metabolism
  • Plant Physiological Phenomena*


  • Indoleacetic Acids
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Plant Growth Regulators