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Early developmental plasticity of lateral roots in response to asymmetric water availability


Root branching is influenced by the soil environment and exhibits a high level of plasticity. We report that the radial positioning of emerging lateral roots is influenced by their hydrological environment during early developmental stages. New lateral root primordia have both a high degree of flexibility in terms of initiation and development angle towards the available water. Our observations reveal how the external hydrological environment regulates lateral root morphogenesis.

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Fig. 1: Arabidopsis branching is influenced by the position of the root in the agar.
Fig. 2: Lateral root development is flexible during all developmental stages.

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Data availability

The data for Fig. 1f is shown in Supplementary Video 1. Other datasets can be shared upon reasonable request.


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This work was supported by awards from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (grant nos. BB/M012212, BB/G023972/1, BB/R013748/1, BB/L026848/1, BB/M018431/1, BB/PO16855/1 and BB/M001806/1), the European Research Council FUTUREROOTS Advanced Investigator (grant no. 294729) and the Leverhulme Trust (grant no. RPG-2016-409). E.H.K.S. is funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (CEF-MC I/II, DFG Exc 115). Research at the Maizel Lab is supported by the DFG FOR2581, the Land Baden-Württemberg, the Chica und Heinz Schaller Stiftung, the CellNetworks cluster of excellence and the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation.

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Authors and Affiliations



D.v.W., J. Banda, A.B., A.M., E.H.K.S. and M.B. designed the experiments. D.v.W. and J. Banda performed the experiments, and D.v.W., J. Banda, A.S., J. Boland, A.B., A.M., E.H.K.S. and M.B. analysed the data. D.v.W., J. Banda and M.B. wrote the manuscript with contributions from all the other authors.

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Correspondence to Daniel von Wangenheim or Malcolm Bennett.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Figs. 1–4 with legends.

Reporting Summary

Supplementary Video 1

Lateral root angle dataset.

Supplementary Video 2

3D view of Fig. 2d–g.

Supplementary Data 1

Statistical Source Data.

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von Wangenheim, D., Banda, J., Schmitz, A. et al. Early developmental plasticity of lateral roots in response to asymmetric water availability. Nat. Plants 6, 73–77 (2020).

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