Plant roots sense soil compaction through restricted ethylene diffusion

Bipin K. Pandey, Guoqiang Huang, Rahul Bhosale, Sjon Hartman, Craig J. Sturrock, Lottie Jose, Olivier C. Martin, Michal Karady, Laurentius A.C.J. Voesenek, Karin Ljung, Jonathan P. Lynch, Kathleen M. Brown, William R. Whalley, Sacha J. Mooney, Dabing Zhang, Malcolm J. Bennett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Soil compaction represents a major challenge for modern agriculture. Compaction is intuitively thought to reduce root growth by limiting the ability of roots to penetrate harder soils. We report that root growth in compacted soil is instead actively suppressed by the volatile hormone ethylene. We found that mutant Arabidopsis and rice roots that were insensitive to ethylene penetrated compacted soil more effectively than did wild-type roots. Our results indicate that soil compaction lowers gas diffusion through a reduction in air-filled pores, thereby causing ethylene to accumulate in root tissues and trigger hormone responses that restrict growth. We propose that ethylene acts as an early warning signal for roots to avoid compacted soils, which would be relevant to research into the breeding of crops resilient to soil compaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)276-280
Number of pages5
JournalScience
Volume371
Issue number6526
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 15 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

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