Geotropism in Corn Roots: Evidence for Its Mediation by Differential Acid Efflux

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Science  03 Apr 1981:
Vol. 212, Issue 4490, pp. 70-71
DOI: 10.1126/science.212.4490.70


The elongation zone in intact growing corn roots secretes acid leading to a reduced pH along the surface of the root and in the adjacent medium. This can be detected by placing the root on an agar medium containing the pH indicator dye bromocresol purple. When the root is treated with a growth inhibitory concentration of the hormone indole-3-acetic acid, the acid efflux is reversed and growth is greatly retarded. When the root is mounted vertically, acid secretion is uniform along the elongation zone, and the root grows straight downward. When the root is placed horizontally, there is enhanced acid efflux along the upper surface of the elongation zone and reduced acid efflux along the lower surface. An increased rate of elongation of the upper cells relative to the lower cells then results in downward curvature of the root. The correlation between acid efflux patterns and growth patterns indicates that proton efflux is important in the control of root growth.

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