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

he Institute of Agro-Environmental and Forest Biology in Italy. But as in all plant sciences, rigorous work about what goes on below the surface of the soil is scarce, even though root behavior below ground could be essential for understanding how plants establish and survive in agricultural and natural settings.

Time-lapse photography has popularized the most famous tropismphototropism, or how plants move toward light. Phototropism may be the most well-studied tropism, but one relatively unexplored area of phototropism is how plants grow and move in green light, as studied by graduate student Yihai Wang and his advisor Kevin Folta at the University of Florida. Light becomes greener when it passes through nearby plants. A plant growing in a shady spot under a tree receives less sunlight, and it also receives different wavelengths of light that change its growth patterns. Scenarios like this happen every day in the natural world, explain Wang and Folta. "Oftentimes a plant cannot possibly compete by out-growing or over-reaching a neighbor, and it must adopt a new program of acclimation," they say. Wang and Folta explore new findings about how plant species use gene expression and physiology to cope and survive in green-enriched environments.

The special issue continues with articles tackling how gravitropism works. Recent discoveries of plant hormones and the proteins that transport them have reinvigorated scientists to investigate the pathways plants use to perceive gravity. Original research in this special issue begins to "untangle the complex interactions" of plant growth regulators like plant hormones, proteins, and organic compounds, explain Wyatt and Kiss.

Wyatt and Kiss hope to inspire young scientists to conduct research on the fundamental field of plant tropisms on Earth and in space. "Remember the seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why," quotes Wyatt of Robert Fulgh
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Contact: Richard Hund
rhund@botany.org
314-577-9557
American Journal of Botany
Source:Eurekalert  

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