Natural variation in salt-induced root growth phases and their contribution to root architecture plasticity

Eva van Zelm, Silvia Bugallo-Alfageme, Pariya Behrouzi, Jessica Meyer, Christa Testerink, Charlotte M.M. Gommers*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The root system architecture of a plant changes during salt stress exposure. Different accessions of Arabidopsis thaliana have adopted different strategies in remodelling their root architecture during salt stress. Salt induces a multiphase growth response in roots, consisting of a stop phase, quiescent phase, recovery phase and eventually a new level of homoeostasis. We explored natural variation in the length of and growth rate during these phases in both main and lateral roots and find that some accessions lack the quiescent phase. Using mathematical models and correlation-based network, allowed us to correlate dynamic traits to overall root architecture and discover that both the main root growth rate during homoeostasis and lateral root appearance are the strongest determinants of overall root architecture. In addition, this approach revealed a trade-off between investing in main or lateral root length during salt stress. By studying natural variation in high-resolution temporal root growth using mathematical modelling, we gained new insights in the interactions between dynamic root growth traits and we identified key traits that modulate overall root architecture during salt stress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2174-2186
Number of pages13
JournalPlant Cell and Environment
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 13 Mar 2023


  • Arabidopsis thaliana
  • root growth
  • salinity
  • trade-off


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