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REVIEW: Role of the Earth’s Motions in Plant Orientation – Planetary Mechanism

Alexey M. Olovnikova

Emanuel Institute of Biochemical Physics, Russian Academy of Sciences, 119334 Moscow, Russia

Received October 6, 2021; Revised October 6, 2021; Accepted October 7, 2021
According to the proposed theory, the starch-rich particles (statoliths) help the plant to convert the signals from Earth’s motions into the signals necessary for the plant to perceive its orientation relative to the gravity vector while moving freely because of inertia in the sensory cells (statocytes) of roots and stems. Motions of the Earth are never constant, which, in particular, refers to the so-called polar motions and oscillations of the planet’s rotation axis. Statoliths at any given moment move in the cytoplasmic liquid of statocytes due to inertial motion initiated by the action of the Earth’s movements, maintaining the trajectory set by the previous movement of the oscillating planet. Unlike statoliths, the walls of a statocyte move in space along with the entire plant and with the Earth, in strict accordance with the current direction of motion of the planet’s axis. This leads to the inevitable collision of statoliths with the statocytic wall/membrane. Cytoplasmic liquid, as a substance that is not able to maintain its shape, does not interfere with the inertial motions of the statoliths and collision with the wall of the statocyte. By striking the membrane, statoliths cause the release of ions and other factors at the impact site, which further participate in the gravitropic process. Pressure of the sediment of statoliths at the bottom of the statocyte, as well as position of this sediment, are not the defining factors of gravitropism.
KEY WORDS: plant gravitropism, perception of orientation, reorientation, sine law, statocytes, statoliths, gravisensing, the Earth’s movements

DOI: 10.1134/S0006297921110031