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Gravitropism in Higher Plants: Cellular Aspects

Part of the SpringerBriefs in Space Life Sciences book series (BRIEFSSLS)


Due to their sessile life style, an important ability of plants is to adjust their growth towards or away from environmental stimuli. Plant responses that involve directed movements are called tropisms. Among the best-known tropisms are phototropism, the response to light, and gravitropism, the response to gravity. Gravity is one of the major factors that govern root growth in plants. Since the emergence of land plants, gravitropism allowed plants to adjust root growth to maximize access to water and nutrients, and shoots to explore and exploit space on and above the surface of the Earth. In this chapter we discuss current knowledge and point out open questions like the nature of the gravireceptor, the role of secondary messengers, hormones and the cytoskeleton. We review the history of plant gravitropism research, from early experiments performed by naturalists like Charles Darwin to the utilization of clinostats, centrifuges and experimentation in the almost stimulus-free environment of microgravity provided by drop towers, parabolic flights of aircrafts and rockets, satellites and low earth orbit space stations, which are increasingly contributing to our understanding of plant gravity sensing and orientation.


  • Auxin
  • Clinostat
  • Gravitropism
  • Gravity
  • Microgravity
  • Roots
  • Statolith

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© 2018 The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature

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Gadalla, D.S., Braun, M., Böhmer, M. (2018). Gravitropism in Higher Plants: Cellular Aspects. In: Gravitational Biology I. SpringerBriefs in Space Life Sciences. Springer, Cham.

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