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Meristematic waves

The root architecture is important for the acquisition of water and nutrients, their transport to above ground organs and the mechanical stabilisation of the stem. Characterising root developmental processes is, therefore, crucial to the understanding of the plant fundamental functions, competition for resources, evolution and adaptation to the changing environment. Knowledge of root architecture is also important for designing effective and sustainable agronomic management practises.


Root architectures establish through elementary expansion and branching events at the proximity of apical meristems, the sites of active exploration. Initiated at the seed, the location of meristems is thought to propagate wave-like through the soil, leaving behind a permanent network of roots for the plant to acquire water and nutrients. We believe that contrasting 'meristematic wave' are a fundamental characteristic of plant species, allowing them to secure the different niche resources available in the soil.


We develop partial differential models of the growth of root system. They incorporate root expansion, branching and gravitropic concepts, and they exhibit different types of waves patterns. Mini-rhizotron experiments are being used to monitor the evolution of the root density distribution in order to characterise the patterns of root meristematic waves in different species. Wave profiles will be used, for example, as a quantitative trait to explain mechanisms of underground competition, or will help to identify cultivars relying less on fertiliser inputs.


Further reading

De La Fuente Canto C., Kalogiros D.I., Ptashnyk M., George T.S., Waugh R., Bengough A.G., Russell J, Dupuy LX 2018 Journal Theoretical Biology 447, 84-97.

Kalogiros D.I., Adu M.O., White P.J. , Broadley M.R., Draye X., Bengough A.G.,Ptashnyk M., Dupuy L.X. 2016 Journal of experimental botany 67, 1045-1058.

Dupuy, L.X., Vignes, M., McKenzie, B.M., White, P.J. 2010. Plant Cell & Environment 33(3), 358–369.

Dupuy, L.X., Gregory, P., Bengough, A.G. 2010. Journal of Experimental Botany 61(8), 2131-2143.


Areas of Interest

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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.