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Root growth responses to mechanical impedance are regulated by a network of ROS, ethylene and auxin signalling in Arabidopsis.

Jacobsen, A.G.R. and Jervis, G. and Xu, J. and Topping, J.F. and Lindsey, K. (2021) 'Root growth responses to mechanical impedance are regulated by a network of ROS, ethylene and auxin signalling in Arabidopsis.', New Phytologist, 231 (1). pp. 225-242.


The growth and development of root systems is influenced by mechanical properties of the substrate in which the plants grow. Mechanical impedance, such as by compacted soil, can reduce root elongation and limit crop productivity. To understand better the mechanisms involved in plant root responses to mechanical impedance stress, we investigated changes in the root transcriptome and hormone signalling responses of Arabidopsis to artificial root barrier systems in vitro. We demonstrate that upon encountering a barrier, reduced Arabidopsis root growth and a characteristic ‘step‐like’ growth pattern is due to a reduction in cell elongation associated with changes in signalling gene expression. Data from RNA‐sequencing combined with reporter line and mutant studies identified essential roles for reactive oxygen species, ethylene and auxin signalling during the barrier response. We propose a model in which early responses to mechanical impedance include reactive oxygen signalling integrated with ethylene and auxin responses to mediate root growth changes. Inhibition of ethylene responses allows improved growth in response to root impedance, an observation that may inform future crop breeding programmes.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:© 2021 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2021 New Phytologist Foundation This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Date accepted:05 January 2021
Date deposited:31 March 2021
Date of first online publication:11 January 2021
Date first made open access:31 March 2021

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