Mechanical Analysis of Twisted Growth in Plant Roots

Mechanical Analysis of Twisted Growth in Plant Roots

Mechanical Analysis of Twisted Growth in Plant Roots

To better understand root exploration strategies in mechanically heterogeneous environments, CD BioSciences works to help clients analyze the buckling of roots through air gaps in soils and measure the forces generated during root growth. The mechanical analysis services we offer for root twisted growth help provide guiding information for breeding suitable crop plants in areas with poor soil conditions.


Notably, some plant roots exhibit a strong mechanical ability to navigate their environment, appearing as twisted growth. In recent years, environmental changes such as agricultural activities or droughts have caused problems with declining agricultural soil quality, including an increase in soil mechanical resistance, which can impede root growth. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the strategies employed by roots to grow in mechanically heterogeneous environments.

In addition to the role of various molecular processes, including genetic and morphogenetic factors, it is also important to consider the role of mechanical processes such as deformation, flow and stresses in better understanding the mechanisms involved in root twisted growth. Recent research has developed a soft robot that mimics plant roots, making it possible to study the mechanics of the role of bypassing in obstacle navigation. Current research advances in this field have provided important information for determining the mechanisms of twisted growth in plant roots.

3D imaging of helical buckling in Medicago truncatula plant roots. Fig.1 3D imaging of helical buckling in Medicago truncatula plant roots. (Silverberg, 2012)

Our Services

We have combined 3D movies with measurements and mathematical modeling to provide a new perspective on root growth, revealing the role that mechanics plays in determining root shape. Our services include but are not limited to:

  • Root twisting angle quantification and statistical analysis.
  • 3D imaging of helical buckling in plant roots.
    We offer the latest imaging techniques to study root growth through mechanically heterogeneous environments. As the opacity of the soil hinders the study of root twisted growth, we use transparent hydrogels with structural heterogeneity to mechanically perturb roots in a controlled manner and observe root helical buckling using a three-dimensional (3D) time-lapse imaging system.
  • Mechanical modeling of helical buckling in plant roots.
    • Measurement of root morphological changes.
    • Development of mathematical formulations for the buckled rod model.
    • Fitting the model to the data.
    • Determining the biomechanical plausibility of the values of the fitted model parameters.


  • Study on the connection between root geometry, growth, and force generation.
  • Study on the mechanism of hierarchical helical order.
  • Study on the twisting mechanism of stems.

Over the years, CD BioSciences has gained considerable experience in the field of plant mechanics research, allowing us to provide our customers with mechanical analysis and modeling services for twisted growth in plant roots. If you are interested in our services, please contact us for more information.


  1. Silverberg, J. L.; et al. 3D imaging and mechanical modeling of helical buckling in Medicago truncatula plant roots. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2012, 109(42): 16794-16799.
For research use only, not intended for any clinical use.
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