Apogeotropic Roots in an Amazon Rain Forest

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Science  27 Feb 1987:
Vol. 235, Issue 4792, pp. 1062-1064
DOI: 10.1126/science.235.4792.1062


Roots of some tropical trees grow vertically upward on the stems of neighboring trees. Apogeotropic roots occur in 12 species across five families. These roots, originating as fine roots in the mineral soil, grow upward as fast as 5.6 centimeters in 72 hours. Apogeotropic root growth may be an adaptation to extremely low soil nutrient availability in Amazon forests. In these forests upward-growing roots obtain nutrients via the predictable pathway of precipitation that flows down along the stem. Apogeotropic roots form a nutrient cycling pathway in which nutrients are absorbed and transported directly from plant to plant, without entering the soil solution.