Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Root


Using human evaluation of 100,000 words spread across 24 corpora in 10 languages diverse in origin and culture, we present evidence of a deep imprint of human sociality in language, observing that (i) the words of natural human language possess a universal positivity bias, (ii) the estimated emotional content of words is consistent between languages under translation, and (iii) this positivity bias is strongly independent of frequency of word use. Alongside these general regularities, we describe interlanguage variations in the emotional spectrum of languages that allow us to rank corpora. We also show how our word evaluations can be used to construct physical-like instruments for both real-time and offline measurement of the emotional content of large-scale texts.

Concepts: Programming language, Cognition, Reason, Mathematics, Translation, Root, Word, Language


Understanding of soil processes is essential for addressing the global issues of food security, disease transmission and climate change. However, techniques for observing soil biology are lacking. We present a heterogeneous, porous, transparent substrate for in situ 3D imaging of living plants and root-associated microorganisms using particles of the transparent polymer, Nafion, and a solution with matching optical properties. Minerals and fluorescent dyes were adsorbed onto the Nafion particles for nutrient supply and imaging of pore size and geometry. Plant growth in transparent soil was similar to that in soil. We imaged colonization of lettuce roots by the human bacterial pathogen Escherichia coli O157:H7 showing micro-colony development. Micro-colonies may contribute to bacterial survival in soil. Transparent soil has applications in root biology, crop genetics and soil microbiology.

Concepts: Organism, Genetics, Biotechnology, Escherichia coli O157:H7, Root, Microbiology, Escherichia coli, Bacteria


Gravity has major effects on both the form and overall length of root growth. Numerous papers have documented these effects (over 300 publications in the last 5 years), the most well-studied being gravitropism, which is a growth re-orientation directed by gravity toward the earth’s center. Less studied effects of gravity are undulations due to the regular periodic change in the direction root tips grow, called waving, and the slanted angle of growth roots exhibit when they are growing along a nearly-vertical surface, called skewing. Although diverse studies have led to the conclusion that a gravity stimulus is needed for plant roots to show waving and skewing, the novel results just published by Paul et al. (2012) reveal that this conclusion is not correct. In studies carried out in microgravity on the International Space Station, the authors used a new imaging system to collect digital photographs of plants every six hours during 15 days of spaceflight. The imaging system allowed them to observe how roots grew when their orientation was directed not by gravity but by overhead LED lights, which roots grew away from because they are negatively phototropic. Surprisingly, the authors observed both skewing and waving in spaceflight plants, thus demonstrating that both growth phenomena were gravity independent. Touch responses and differential auxin transport would be common features of root waving and skewing at 1-g and micro-g, and the novel results of Paul et al. will focus the attention of cell and molecular biologists more on these features as they try to decipher the signaling pathways that regulate root skewing and waving.

Concepts: Tree, Observation, Auxin, Gravitropism, Plant, Earth, International Space Station, Root


Plants continuously extend their root and shoot systems through the action of meristems at their growing tips. By regulating which meristems are active, plants adjust their body plans to suit local environmental conditions. The transport network of the phytohormone auxin has been proposed to mediate this systemic growth coordination, due to its self-organising, environmentally sensitive properties. In particular, a positive feedback mechanism termed auxin transport canalization, which establishes auxin flow from active shoot meristems (auxin sources) to the roots (auxin sinks), has been proposed to mediate competition between shoot meristems and to balance shoot and root growth. Here we provide strong support for this hypothesis by demonstrating that a second hormone, strigolactone, regulates growth redistribution in the shoot by rapidly modulating auxin transport. A computational model in which strigolactone action is represented as an increase in the rate of removal of the auxin export protein, PIN1, from the plasma membrane can reproduce both the auxin transport and shoot branching phenotypes observed in various mutant combinations and strigolactone treatments, including the counterintuitive ability of strigolactones either to promote or inhibit shoot branching, depending on the auxin transport status of the plant. Consistent with this predicted mode of action, strigolactone signalling was found to trigger PIN1 depletion from the plasma membrane of xylem parenchyma cells in the stem. This effect could be detected within 10 minutes of strigolactone treatment and was independent of protein synthesis but dependent on clathrin-mediated membrane trafficking. Together these results support the hypothesis that growth across the plant shoot system is balanced by competition between shoot apices for a common auxin transport path to the root and that strigolactones regulate shoot branching by modulating this competition.

Concepts: Plant morphology, Shoot, Protein, Feedback, Meristem, Plant, Root, Plant stem


We analyze the occurrence frequencies of over 15 million words recorded in millions of books published during the past two centuries in seven different languages. For all languages and chronological subsets of the data we confirm that two scaling regimes characterize the word frequency distributions, with only the more common words obeying the classic Zipf law. Using corpora of unprecedented size, we test the allometric scaling relation between the corpus size and the vocabulary size of growing languages to demonstrate a decreasing marginal need for new words, a feature that is likely related to the underlying correlations between words. We calculate the annual growth fluctuations of word use which has a decreasing trend as the corpus size increases, indicating a slowdown in linguistic evolution following language expansion. This “cooling pattern” forms the basis of a third statistical regularity, which unlike the Zipf and the Heaps law, is dynamical in nature.

Concepts: Root, August Schleicher, Speech, Zipf's law, Word, Linguistics, Mathematics, Language


We coordinated biogeographical comparisons of the impacts of an exotic invasive tree in its native and non-native ranges with a congeneric comparison in the non-native range. Prosopis juliflora is taxonomically complicated and with P. pallida forms the P. juliflora complex. Thus we sampled P. juliflora in its native Venezuela, and also located two field sites in Peru, the native range of Prosopis pallida. Canopies of Prosopis juliflora, a native of the New World but an invader in many other regions, had facilitative effects on the diversity of other species in its native Venezuela, and P. pallida had both negative and positive effects depending on the year, (overall neutral effects) in its native Peru. However, in India and Hawaii, USA, where P. juliflora is an aggressive invader, canopy effects were consistently and strongly negative on species richness. Prosopis cineraria, a native to India, had much weaker effects on species richness in India than P. juliflora. We carried out multiple congeneric comparisons between P. juliflora and P. cineraria, and found that soil from the rhizosphere of P. juliflora had higher extractable phosphorus, soluble salts and total phenolics than P. cineraria rhizosphere soils. Experimentally applied P. juliflora litter caused far greater mortality of native Indian species than litter from P. cineraria. Prosopis juliflora leaf leachate had neutral to negative effects on root growth of three common crop species of north-west India whereas P. cineraria leaf leachate had positive effects. Prosopis juliflora leaf leachate also had higher concentrations of total phenolics and L-tryptophan than P. cineraria, suggesting a potential allelopathic mechanism for the congeneric differences. Our results also suggest the possibility of regional evolutionary trajectories among competitors and that recent mixing of species from different trajectories has the potential to disrupt evolved interactions among native species.

Concepts: Evolution, Invasive plant species, Root, Biogeography, Biology, Ecology, Prosopis juliflora, Prosopis


Vitis vinifera scions are commonly grafted onto rootstocks of other grape species to influence scion vigour and provide resistance to soil-borne pests and abiotic stress; however, the mechanisms by which rootstocks affect scion physiology remain unknown. This study characterized the hydraulic physiology of Vitis rootstocks that vary in vigour classification by investigating aquaporin (VvPIP) gene expression, fine-root hydraulic conductivity (Lp®), % aquaporin contribution to Lp®, scion transpiration, and the size of root systems. Expression of several VvPIP genes was consistently greater in higher-vigour rootstocks under favourable growing conditions in a variety of media and in root tips compared to mature fine roots. Similar to VvPIP expression patterns, fine-root Lp® and % aquaporin contribution to Lp® determined under both osmotic (Lp®(Osm)) and hydrostatic (Lp®(Hyd)) pressure gradients were consistently greater in high-vigour rootstocks. Interestingly, the % aquaporin contribution was nearly identical for Lp®(Osm) and Lp®(Hyd) even though a hydrostatic gradient would induce a predominant flow across the apoplastic pathway. In common scion greenhouse experiments, leaf area-specific transpiration (E) and total leaf area increased with rootstock vigour and were positively correlated with fine-root Lp®. These results suggest that increased canopy water demands for scion grafted onto high-vigour rootstocks are matched by adjustments in root-system hydraulic conductivity through the combination of fine-root Lp® and increased root surface area.

Concepts: Grafting, Root, Viticulture, Plant reproduction, Grape, Rootstock, Phylloxera, Gene


Circumnutation, the helical movement of growing organ tips, is ubiquitous in land plants. The mechanisms underlying circumnutation have been debated since Darwin’s time. Experiments in space and mutant analyses have revealed that internal oscillatory (tropism-independent) movement and gravitropic response are involved in circumnutation. Female flower buds of tape grass (Vallisneria asiatica var. biwaensis) circumnutate on the water surface. Our observations and experiments with an artificial model indicated that gravitropism is barely involved in circumnutation. Instead, we show that helical intercalary growth at the base of peduncle plays the primary role in all movements in Vallisneria. This growth pattern produces torsional bud rotation, and gravity and buoyancy forces have a physical effect on the direction of peduncle elongation, resulting in bud circumnutation on the water surface. In contrast to other water-pollinated hydrophilous plants, circumnutation in Vallisneria enables female flowers to actively collect male flowers from a larger surface area of water.

Concepts: Root, Buoyancy, Flower, Surface area, Plant stem, Plant, Bud, Plant sexuality


The effective production and usage of ginsenosides, given their distinct pharmacological effects, are receiving increasing amounts of attention. As the ginsenosides content differs in different parts of Panax ginseng, we wanted to assess and compare the ginsenosides content in the ginseng roots, leave, stems, and berries. To extract the ginsenosides, 70% (v/v) methanol was used. The optimal ultra-performance liquid chromatography-quadrupole time of flight mass spectrometry (UPLC-QTOF/MS) method was used to profile various ginsenosides from the different parts of P. ginseng. The datasets were then subjected to multivariate analysis including principal component analysis (PCA) and hierarchical clustering analysis (HCA). A UPLC-QTOF/MS method with an in-house library was constructed to profile 58 ginsenosides. With this method, a total of 39 ginsenosides were successfully identified and quantified in the ginseng roots, leave, stem, and berries. PCA and HCA characterized the different ginsenosides compositions from the different parts. The quantitative ginsenoside contents were also characterized from each plant part. The results of this study indicate that the UPLC-QTOF/MS method can be an effective tool to characterize various ginsenosides from the different parts of P. ginseng.

Concepts: Panax ginseng, Panax, Mass spectrometry, Principal component analysis, Multivariate statistics, Ginsenoside, Root, Ginseng


The production of tuberous roots is usually reduced by vigorous vegetative growth because of the competition for resource between the vegetative parts and reproductive organs. In this study, we conducted root pruning to examine the vigorous vegetative growth by regulating root growth, subsequently limiting vegetative growth and improving tuber yield. Compared with the control, stem, tuber, and root biomasses were all improved, whereas both flower and leaf biomasses were increased. Tuber biomass was improved by 23.48% to 50.32%, with the largest tuber biomass obtained at root cutting radius 4/5 R. With delayed root cutting time, tuber and root biomasses increased first and then decreased. The largest tuber biomass was obtained at 65 seedling stage. With a delay in root cutting time, the trend line of aboveground, underground, and total biomasses changed gradually. However, whereas underground and total biomasses showed a gradually increasing, aboveground biomass showed a decreasing. The values of stem-leaf and shoot-root ratios under different root cutting were higher than those of the control. With a delay in root cutting time, stem-leaf ratio showed an initial increase and then decreased with largest value being obtained at 80 seedling stage, whereas the largest shoot-root ratio was obtained at 115 seedling stage.

Concepts: Plant morphology, Root, Vegetative reproduction, Tuber, Asexual reproduction, Rhizome, Plant stem, Plant reproduction