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Review article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

The origin of bi-dimensionality in plant root traits

Zhang, Yue; Cao, Jingjing; Lu, Mingzhen; Kardol, Paul; Wang, Junjian; Fan, Guoqiang; Kong, Deliang


Plant roots show extraordinary diversity in form and function in heterogeneous environments. Mounting evidence has shown global bi-dimensionality in root traits, the root economics spectrum (RES), and an orthogonal dimension describing mycorrhizal collaboration; however, the origin of the bi-dimensionality remains unresolved. Here, we propose that bi-dimensionality arises from the cylindrical geometry of roots, allometry between root cortex and stele, and independence between root cell wall thickness and cell number. Root geometry and mycorrhizal collaboration may both underlie the bi-dimensionality. Further, we emphasize why plant roots should be cylindrical rather than flat. Finally, we highlight the need to integrate organ-, cellular-, and molecular-level processes driving the bi-dimensionality in plant roots to fully understand plant diversity and functions.

Published in

Trends in ecology & evolution
2024, Volume: 39, number: 1, pages: 78-88
Publisher: CELL PRESS