Understanding allocation to shoot and root growth will require molecular information about which compounds act as signals for the plant nutrient status, and how meristem activity and cellular growth are regulated: Opinion

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Abstract

Most previous analyses of shoot-root allocation have investigated correlations between changes in putative signals and shoot-root allocation. It is argued that studies of shoot-root allocation need to be extended to include investigations of mutants with specific lesions in nutrient metabolism, to identify the compounds that are sensed as indicators for the plant nutrient status and act as the starting point for specific transduction pathways. The mechanisms of nutrient sensing can then be investigated using molecular and genetic strategies analogous to those that have been successfully used to investigate other signal transduction events. Investigations of shoot-root allocation should also pay more attention to the way in which root architecture is modified in response to nutrient supply, and need to be designed and interpreted in the light of molecular and genetic analyses of root development.

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