JERUSALEM, April 19 (Xinhua) -- Researchers from Israel, China, the U.S. and Austria have found that plant roots act like a drill penetrating walls, screwing themselves into the ground, Tel Aviv University (TAU) in central Israel said on Monday.
Following their plant study, the researchers are presently examining whether cancer cells are also assisted by a spiral motion to penetrate healthy tissues, or to create metastases in various organs of the body.
The plant study, published in the journal Nature Communications, was conducted by TAU, in collaboration with Shandong University in Qingdao, the University of California in San Diego and the Institute of Science and Technology Austria in Klosterneuburg.
The team performed imaging at the resolution of a single root cell and discovered that the drilling movement occurs in specific cells at the tip of the root, enabling the root to penetrate the ground.
The team also recognized that the hormone auxin controls the screwing process of the root tip.
The plant researchers were aided by a computational model constructed by cancer researchers studying cancer cells, which they adapted for use with plant root cells.
The researchers marked the nuclei of Arabidopsis plant's root cells with a fluorescent protein, then observed the growing process and movement of the cells at the root tip through a powerful microscope.
This way they were able, for the first time, to observe with their own eyes the corkscrew movement of the root, as well as to precisely quantify and chart some 30 root growth parameters relating to time and space.