2008 Student Research Conference:
21st Annual Student Research Conference

The Effect of Age on Gravity Perception in Flax Roots: A Mathematical Approach
Christopher M. Hassett* and Jacob G. Henderson
Dr. Todd Hammond and Prof. Zhong Ma, Faculty Mentors

Gravitropism is the bending growth of plant organs in response to gravity stimulus. It is essential in the deployment of an underground root system for water and nutrient acquisition, and an aboveground shoot system for photosynthesis. We observed that graviresponse deteriorates as roots age, and investigated whether the reduced response is due to decreased gravitropic sensitivity, i.e., the minimal stimulation under 1-g for the induction of a response. Flax seedling roots at different ages were tested for their gravitropic response and sensitivity by quantifying root curvature. The common method of obtaining this value involves manually drawing two tangent lines along the curved root, and measuring the angle between them. For precise and accurate determination of root gravitropic curvature, we developed a mathematical algorithm that minimizes the ambiguity intrinsic to manual measurement. Further knowledge on cellular processes associated with changes in gravity sensing would advance our understanding of the gravisensing machinery.

Keywords: gravitropism, flax, image analysis, plant roots, medial axis, curvature

Topic(s):Mathematical Biology

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 52-4
Location: VH 1428
Time: 3:30

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