Introduction and Background

Plants adapt exquisitely to their environment: physiology and metabolism change diurnally and in response to many environmental conditions, and reproductive development is generally sensitive to day length, temperature, or other proxies of seasonal change. The most fundamental adaptation to environmental change in plants is altered growth behavior, involving changes to root or shoot growth patterns, rates, or both.

Despite their fundamental importance for our understanding of plant growth, for rational approaches to sustainably enhance yields in agriculture and forestry and, ultimately, for human welfare, we still understand surprisingly little about the mechanisms that govern growth in plants. In this chapter, I will consider the signals and genetic mechanisms involved in controlling growth in aerial and underground organs.

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