Rhythmic patterns of nutrient acquisition by wheat roots

Sergey Shabala, Andrew Knowles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Oscillatory patterns in H+, K+, Ca2+ and Cl- uptake were observed at different regions of the root surface, including root hairs, using a non-invasive ion flux measuring technique (the MIFE™ technique). To our knowledge, this is the first report of ultradian oscillations in nutrient acquisition in the mature root zone. Oscillations of the largest magnitude were usually measured in the elongation region, 2-4 mm from the root apex. There were usually at least two oscillatory components present for each ion measured: fast, with periods of several minutes; and slow, with periods of 50-80 min. Even within the same functional zone, the periods of ion flux oscillations were significantly different, suggesting that they are driven by some internal mechanisms located in each cell rather than originating from one 'central clock pacemaker'. There were also significant changes in the oscillatory characteristics (both periods and amplitudes) of fluxes from a single small cluster of cells over time. Analysis of phase shifts between oscillations in different ions suggested that rhythmic activity of a plasma membrane H+-pump may be central to observed rhythmic nutrient acquisition by plant roots. We discuss the possible adaptive significance of such an oscillatory strategy for root nutrient acquisition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)595-605
Number of pages11
JournalFunctional Plant Biology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


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