Root-to-shoot signalling: Integration of diverse molecules, pathways and functions

Sergey Shabala, Rosemary G. White, Michael A. Djordjevic, Yong Ling Ruan, Ulrike Mathesius

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

89 Citations (Scopus)


Plant adaptive potential is critically dependent upon efficient communication and co-ordination of resource allocation and signalling between above- and below-ground plant parts. Plant roots act as gatekeepers that sense and encode information about soil physical, chemical and biological factors, converting them into a sophisticated network of signals propagated both within the root itself, and also between the root and shoot, to optimise plant performance for a specific set of conditions. In return, plant roots receive and decode reciprocal information coming from the shoot. The communication modes are highly diverse and include a broad range of physical (electric and hydraulic signals, propagating Ca2+ and ROS waves), chemical (assimilates, hormones, peptides and nutrients), and molecular (proteins and RNA) signals. Further, different signalling systems operate at very different timescales. It remains unclear whether some of these signalling systems operate in a priming mode(s), whereas others deliver more specific information about the nature of the signal, or whether they carry the same 'weight'. This review summarises the current knowledge of the above signalling mechanisms, and reveals their hierarchy, and highlights the importance of integration of these signalling components, to enable optimal plant functioning in a dynamic environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-104
Number of pages18
JournalFunctional Plant Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


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