Plant Science

Plants work out which way is up

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  18 May 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6390, pp. 749
DOI: 10.1126/science.360.6390.749-a

Specialist plant cells contain gravity sensors to guide upright growth.

PHOTO: MARTIN SHIELDS/SCIENCE SOURCE

Gravity-sensing cells in plants contain tiny grains of starch called statoliths. The orientation of the statoliths changes with the plant's orientation. The gravity-sensing cells respond to even the slightest tilt off of the established plane. Plant statoliths seem to evade the rules of physics that govern other granular materials. In live-cell imaging of young wheat shoots, Bérut et al. observed that statolith piles behave more like slowly creeping liquids than like granular accumulations. The reason is that the individual statoliths are always jiggling around, perhaps because of interactions with the plant cytoskeleton.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 10.1073/pnas.1801895115 (2018).

Navigate This Article