• Asymmetrical growth;
  • gravity-induced differentiation;
  • microgravity;
  • patatin-related phospholipase-A-I (pPLA-I-1);
  • root coils


Arabidopsis roots on 45° tilted agar in 1-g grow in wave-like figures. In addition to waves, formation of root coils is observed in several mutants compromised in gravitropism and/or auxin transport. The knockdown mutant ppla-I-1 of patatin-related phospholipase-A-I is delayed in root gravitropism and forms increased numbers of root coils. Three known factors contribute to waving: circumnutation, gravisensing and negative thigmotropism. In microgravity, deprivation of wild type (WT) and mutant roots of gravisensing and thigmotropism and circumnutation (known to slow down in microgravity, and could potentially lead to fewer waves or increased coiling in both WT and mutant). To resolve this, mutant ppla-I-1 and WT were grown in the BIOLAB facility in the International Space Station. In 1-g, roots of both types only showed waving. In the first experiment in microgravity, the mutant after 9 days formed far more coils than in 1-g but the WT also formed several coils. After 24 days in microgravity, in both types the coils were numerous with slightly more in the mutant. In the second experiment, after 9 days in microgravity only the mutant formed coils and the WT grew arcuated roots. Cell file rotation (CFR) on the mutant root surface in microgravity decreased in comparison to WT, and thus was not important for coiling. Several additional developmental responses (hypocotyl elongation, lateral root formation, cotyledon expansion) were found to be gravity-influenced. We tentatively discuss these in the context of disturbances in auxin transport, which are known to decrease through lack of gravity.