Underground tuning: quantitative regulation of root growth

J Exp Bot. 2015 Feb;66(4):1099-112. doi: 10.1093/jxb/eru529. Epub 2015 Jan 26.


Plants display a high degree of phenotypic plasticity that allows them to tune their form and function to changing environments. The plant root system has evolved mechanisms to anchor the plant and to efficiently explore soils to forage for soil resources. Key to this is an enormous capacity for plasticity of multiple traits that shape the distribution of roots in the soil. Such root system architecture-related traits are determined by root growth rates, root growth direction, and root branching. In this review, we describe how the root system is constituted, and which mechanisms, pathways, and genes mainly regulate plasticity of the root system in response to environmental variation.

Keywords: Abiotic stress; Arabidopsis thaliana; light; nutrients; plant hormones; root growth; root system architecture; water availability..

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis / growth & development
  • Arabidopsis / physiology
  • Arabidopsis / radiation effects
  • Environment
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant*
  • Light
  • Phenotype
  • Plant Growth Regulators / metabolism*
  • Plant Roots / genetics*
  • Plant Roots / growth & development
  • Plant Roots / physiology
  • Plant Roots / radiation effects
  • Soil
  • Stress, Physiological
  • Water / physiology


  • Plant Growth Regulators
  • Soil
  • Water