PLoS ONE (Jan 2021)

Conditions for the emergence of circumnutations in plant roots.

  • Ilya Loshchilov,
  • Emanuela Del Dottore,
  • Barbara Mazzolai,
  • Dario Floreano

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 16, no. 5
p. e0252202


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The plant root system shows remarkably complex behaviors driven by environmental cues and internal dynamics, whose interplay remains largely unknown. A notable example is circumnutation growth movements, which are growth oscillations from side to side of the root apex. Here we describe a model capable of replicating root growth behaviors, which we used to analyze the role of circumnuntations, revealing their emergence I) under gravitropic stress, as a combination of signal propagation and sensitivity to the signal carriers; II) as a result of the interplay between gravitropic and thigmotropic responses; and III) as a behavioral strategy to detect and react to resource gradients. The latter function requires the presence of a hypothetical internal oscillator whose parameters are regulated by the perception of environmental resources.