Thigmomorphogenesis: The response of plants to mechanical perturbation

Frank W. Telewski [W.J. Beal Botanical Garden and Campus Arboretum, Department of Plant Biology, Michigan State University]

The influence of mechanical perturbation (MP) resulting in the flexing of plant organs on plant growth and development has been observed and reported for hundreds of years. In general, the response of plants to MP is a reduction in extension/height growth, and increase in radial growth and increased allocation from above ground to below ground tissues. Within the last fifty years, significant advances have been made in characterizing the response of multiple plant species to MP and the growth response was defined as thigmomorphogenesis. Current research has focused on the mechanoperceptive mechanism and physiological pathway, biomechanics, changes in morphology, anatomy and allometry, induction of resistance to other abiotic and biotic stresses, and practical applications in the fields of forestry, agriculture, and horticulture. This review provides a historical perspective of thigmomorphogenesis and a summary of recent advances in understanding the response of plants to MP.

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