Asymmetric cytokinin signaling opposes gravitropism in roots

J Integr Plant Biol. 2020 Jul;62(7):882-886. doi: 10.1111/jipb.12929. Epub 2020 Apr 24.


Plants depend on gravity to provide the constant landmark for downward root growth and upward shoot growth. The phytohormone auxin and its cell-to-cell transport machinery are central determinants ensuring gravitropic growth. Statolith sedimentation toward gravity is sensed in specialized cells. This positional cue is translated into the polar distribution of PIN auxin efflux carriers at the plasma membrane, leading to asymmetric auxin distribution and consequently, differential growth and organ bending. While we have started to understand the general principles of how primary organs execute gravitropism, we currently lack basic understanding of how lateral plant organs can defy gravitropic responses. Here we briefly review the establishment of the oblique gravitropic set point angle in lateral roots and particularly discuss the emerging role of asymmetric cytokinin signaling as a central anti-gravitropic signal. Differential cytokinin signaling is co-opted in gravitropic lateral and hydrotropic primary roots to counterbalance gravitropic root growth.

Keywords: lateral root; plant hormones; primary root; root system architecture.

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / physiology
  • Cytokinins / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Gravitropism / genetics
  • Gravitropism / physiology*
  • Plant Roots / genetics
  • Plant Roots / growth & development
  • Plant Roots / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction*


  • Cytokinins