A design principle of root length distribution of plants

Yeonsu Jung, Keunhwan Park, Kaare Hartvig Jensen*, Wonjung Kim, Ho-Young Kim

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Shaping a plant root into an ideal structure for water capture is increasingly important for sustainable agriculture in the era of global climate change. Although the current genetic engineering of crops favours deep-reaching roots, here we show that nature has apparently adopted a different strategy of shaping roots. We construct a mathematical model for optimal root length distribution by considering that plants seek maximal water uptake at the metabolic expenses of root growth. Our theory finds a logarithmic decrease of root length density with depth to be most beneficial for efficient water uptake, which is supported by biological data as well as our experiments using root-mimicking network systems. Our study provides a tool to gauge the relative performance of root networks in transgenic plants engineered to endure a water deficit. Moreover, we lay a fundamental framework for mechanical understanding and design of water-absorptive growing networks, such as medical and industrial fluid transport systems and soft robots, which grow in porous media including soils and biotissues.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20190556
JournalJournal of the Royal Society. Interface
Volume16
Issue number161
Number of pages8
ISSN1742-5689
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Keywords

  • Biological fluid dynamics
  • Root lenght density
  • Plant physics
  • Flow in porous media

Cite this

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title = "A design principle of root length distribution of plants",
abstract = "Shaping a plant root into an ideal structure for water capture is increasingly important for sustainable agriculture in the era of global climate change. Although the current genetic engineering of crops favours deep-reaching roots, here we show that nature has apparently adopted a different strategy of shaping roots. We construct a mathematical model for optimal root length distribution by considering that plants seek maximal water uptake at the metabolic expenses of root growth. Our theory finds a logarithmic decrease of root length density with depth to be most beneficial for efficient water uptake, which is supported by biological data as well as our experiments using root-mimicking network systems. Our study provides a tool to gauge the relative performance of root networks in transgenic plants engineered to endure a water deficit. Moreover, we lay a fundamental framework for mechanical understanding and design of water-absorptive growing networks, such as medical and industrial fluid transport systems and soft robots, which grow in porous media including soils and biotissues.",
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author = "Yeonsu Jung and Keunhwan Park and Jensen, {Kaare Hartvig} and Wonjung Kim and Ho-Young Kim",
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language = "English",
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journal = "Journal of the Royal Society. Interface",
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}

A design principle of root length distribution of plants. / Jung, Yeonsu; Park, Keunhwan; Jensen, Kaare Hartvig; Kim, Wonjung; Kim, Ho-Young.

In: Journal of the Royal Society. Interface, Vol. 16, No. 161, 20190556, 2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - A design principle of root length distribution of plants

AU - Jung, Yeonsu

AU - Park, Keunhwan

AU - Jensen, Kaare Hartvig

AU - Kim, Wonjung

AU - Kim, Ho-Young

PY - 2019

Y1 - 2019

N2 - Shaping a plant root into an ideal structure for water capture is increasingly important for sustainable agriculture in the era of global climate change. Although the current genetic engineering of crops favours deep-reaching roots, here we show that nature has apparently adopted a different strategy of shaping roots. We construct a mathematical model for optimal root length distribution by considering that plants seek maximal water uptake at the metabolic expenses of root growth. Our theory finds a logarithmic decrease of root length density with depth to be most beneficial for efficient water uptake, which is supported by biological data as well as our experiments using root-mimicking network systems. Our study provides a tool to gauge the relative performance of root networks in transgenic plants engineered to endure a water deficit. Moreover, we lay a fundamental framework for mechanical understanding and design of water-absorptive growing networks, such as medical and industrial fluid transport systems and soft robots, which grow in porous media including soils and biotissues.

AB - Shaping a plant root into an ideal structure for water capture is increasingly important for sustainable agriculture in the era of global climate change. Although the current genetic engineering of crops favours deep-reaching roots, here we show that nature has apparently adopted a different strategy of shaping roots. We construct a mathematical model for optimal root length distribution by considering that plants seek maximal water uptake at the metabolic expenses of root growth. Our theory finds a logarithmic decrease of root length density with depth to be most beneficial for efficient water uptake, which is supported by biological data as well as our experiments using root-mimicking network systems. Our study provides a tool to gauge the relative performance of root networks in transgenic plants engineered to endure a water deficit. Moreover, we lay a fundamental framework for mechanical understanding and design of water-absorptive growing networks, such as medical and industrial fluid transport systems and soft robots, which grow in porous media including soils and biotissues.

KW - Biological fluid dynamics

KW - Root lenght density

KW - Plant physics

KW - Flow in porous media

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