posted by Hayley on .
How is geotropism/gravitropism related to roots and shoots?
Roots have a tendency to grow downwards, while shoots grow upwards. Gravitropism is a turning or growth movement by a plant or fungus in response to gravity. Charles Darwin was one of the first to scientifically document that roots show positive gravitropism and stems show negative gravitropism. That is, roots grow in the direction of gravitational pull (i.e., downward) and stems grow in the opposite direction (i.e., upwards). This behavior can be easily demonstrated with a potted plant. When laid onto its side, the growing parts of the stem begin to display negative gravitropism, growing (biologists say, turning; see tropism) upwards. Herbaceous (non-woody) stems are capable of a small degree of actual bending, but most of the redirected movement occurs as a consequence of root or stem growth in a new direction. Plants can sense the Earth's gravitational field. Geotropism is the term applied to the consequent orientation response of growing plant parts. Roots are positively geotropic, that is, they will bend and grow downwards, towards the center of the Earth. In contrast, shoots are negatively geotropic, that is, they will bend and grow upwards, or away, from the surface.