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Inconsistencies in the root biology terminology: Let’s communicate better

Abstract

Purpose

Root biology is an actively developing field that includes ecological, morphological, anatomical, developmental, and evolutionary aspects. I focus this opinion paper entirely on the inconsistencies in the usage of various terms in root biology. When terminology is used inconsistently, this may create a confusion in understanding, and the goal of this article is to identify the most common errors and suggest how to avoid them.

Identified inconsistencies and proposed suggestions

The proposed suggestions are as follows: (1) When definitions are not established or ambiguous, it is recommended to describe what is meant (“basal root” term is discussed); (2) Avoid using ambiguous terms (it is recommended not to use the term “secondary root”); (3) When known, give preference to organogenesis-related terminology (the terms “primary root”, “tap root”, and “main root” are compared); (4) Avoid using terms established for one identity to describe a different identity (inappropriate term selection is discussed, and it is recommended not to use the term “basal meristem” in the context of the root apex longitudinal zonation).

Towards better communication 

Overall, I discuss how to avoid inconsistencies in terminology and achieve better communication among root biologists.

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Fig. 1

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Acknowledgements

This opinion paper is dedicated to Prof. Dr. Hans Lambers on the occasion of his 30 years as Editor in Chief of Plant and Soil, and I sincerely thank Hans for his invitation to write this opinion paper. I also thank S. Ainsworth for help with bibliography and preparation of Fig. 1 and G. Rodriguez-Alonso for critical reading of this article. The work in my laboratory is partially supported by Mexican Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACyT) grant A1-S-9236 and by Dirección General de Asuntos del Personal Académico-(DGAPA)—Programa de Apoyo a Proyectos de Investigación e Innovación Tecnológica-UNAM (PAPIIT) grant IN204221. The author has no conflicts of interest to declare.

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Dubrovsky, J.G. Inconsistencies in the root biology terminology: Let’s communicate better. Plant Soil (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11104-022-05415-3

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Keywords

  • Terminology
  • Primary root
  • Lateral root
  • Basal root
  • Main root
  • Tap root
  • Communication