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Scientists join forces to bring plant movement to light
Date:1/2/2013

ernational Space Station is now complete and the U.S. is committed to its utilization until at least 2020," Kiss says. Food and replenishing breathing air are vital functions plants can play on the ISS, and space flight experiments help scientists understand basic mechanisms plants use to grow and move because of gravity, or lack thereof.

Back on Earth, work on gravity and other tropisms is important for understanding plant growth, development, and responses to changing climates. Basic tropistic mechanisms in response to water and light could also enhance agricultural practices, explains Kiss, since crop plants experience environmental stressors like drought and overcrowding.

Tropisms have captured the interest of scientists for centuries. The way plants move can appear so eerily human that in the late 1700s and early 1800s, Dr. Erasmus Darwin, Charles Darwin's grandfather, predicted that plants have multiple brains that can communicate with muscles to tell plants how to grow.

From Erasmus and Charles Darwin to modern-day scientists and techniques, the biology of plant tropisms has come a long way. Some of the special issue articles review the history of plant tropisms to the present day, whereas others move the field forward through new research. New genetic and molecular tools, for example, are used to shed light on the mechanisms plants employ to respond to water and gravity. Many articles focus on the famous model organism in plant science, Arabidopsis thaliana. Other articles on gravitropism include work on cereal grasses important for agriculture as well as the aquatic-dwelling fern Ceratopteris richardii.

The issue kicks off with a broad review article about how roots revolve and bend, known as circumnutation. Vines that wrap around objects as thin as wooden stakes or as thick as tree trunks all use circumnutation to climb. Research on circumnutation in stems is common, points out Dr. Fernando Migliaccio of t
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Contact: Richard Hund
rhund@botany.org
314-577-9557
American Journal of Botany
Source:Eurekalert  

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