Plant Roots: The Hidden Half, Fourth Edition, 4th Edition (Hardback) book cover

Plant Roots

The Hidden Half, Fourth Edition, 4th Edition

Edited by Amram Eshel, Tom Beeckman

CRC Press

848 pages | 246 B/W Illus.

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The decade since the publication of the third edition of this volume has been an era of great progress in biology in general and the plant sciences in particular. This is especially true with the advancements brought on by the sequencing of whole genomes of model organisms and the development of "omics" techniques. This fourth edition of Plant Roots: The Hidden Half reflects these developments that have transformed not only the field of biology, but also the many facets of root science.

Highlights of this new edition include:

  • The basics of root research and their evolution and role in the global context of soil development and atmosphere composition
  • New understandings about roots gained in the post-genomic era, for example, how the development of roots became possible, and the genetic basis required for this to occur
  • The mechanisms that determine root structure, with chapters on cellular patterning, lateral root and vascular development, the molecular basis of adventitious roots, and other topics
  • Plant hormone action and signaling pathways that control root development, including new chapters on strigolactones and brassinosteroids
  • Soil resource acquisition from agricultural and ecological perspectives
  • Root response to stress, with chapters that address the impact of the genomic revolution on this topic
  • Root-rhizosphere interactions, from beneficial microorganisms to detrimental nematodes
  • Modern research techniques for the field and the lab

Each chapter not only presents a clear summation of the topic under discussion, but also includes a vision of what is to be expected in the years to come. The wide coverage of themes in this volume continues the tradition that makes this work recognized as a fundamental source of information for root scientists at all levels.


"…covers a broad range of topics that answer both fundamental and complex questions of plant root research."

South African Journal of Botany, 95 (2014)

Praise for previous editions:

"…a critical reference for anyone who is even peripherally interested in roots and root function….sufficiently comprehensive. …an excellent book….a must have for any collegiate library, and a critical reference for a serious root researcher."

Crop Science

"…the first attempt to summarize new findings concerning plant roots biology…very important."


"…an excellent reference…extensive and intensive in its coverage of plants roots…contains a wealth of significant literature."

Economic Botany

"The contents of this book represent the most comprehensive text on the root research literature available to date. …an accessible and valuable reference work…"

“It is in fact up-to-date and covers many more aspects than the ordinary plant scientist would normally consider. … The book gives a truly multidisciplinary view of the field. It is intended to challenge the reader to consider the most pressing problems in root research and to seek solutions for the future. … The book is suitable as reference for lectures, researchers and students. It is easy to read and is thought provoking. This book should be on the shelves of all teaching and research institution libraries.”

— Johanes Van Staden, Research Centre for Plant Growth and Development, School of Biological and Conservation Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, in South African Journal of Botany, Issue 2, 2007

Table of Contents

The Evolution and Genomics of Roots

The Origin of Roots; Paul Kenrick

Arabidopsis Root; Jaimie M. Van Norman, Louisa M. Liberman, and Philip N. Benfey

Root Structure

Cellular Patterning of the Root Meristem; Kimberly L. Gallagher

Cellular Patterning in the Root Epidermis; Yana M. Wieckowski and John Schiefelbein

Structure and Function of Three Suberized Cell Layers; Chris J. Meyer and Carol A. Peterson

Lateral Root Development; Leentje Jansen, Marlies Demeulenaere, and Tom Beeckman

Vascular Development in Arabidopsis Roots; Anthony Bishopp, Sedeer El-Showk, and Ykä Helariutta

Secondary Growth of Tree Roots; Nigel Chaffey

Rice : A Model Plant to Decipher the Hidden Origin of Adventitious Roots; Yoan Coudert, Van Anh Le Thi, and Pascal Gantet

Genetic Analysis of Maize Root Development; Frank Hochholdinger and Guenter Feix

Molecular Mechanisms Involved in Adventitious Root Formation; Joseph Riov, David Szwerdszarf, Mohamad Abu-Abied, and Einat Sadot

Regulation of Root Growth

Auxin Signaling in Primary Roots; Catherine Perrot-Rechenmann

Role of Gibberellins in Root Growth; Eiichi Tanimoto and Ko Hirano

Molecular Basis of Cytokinin Action during Root Development; Serena Perilli, Laila Moubayidin, and Sabrina Sabatini

Ethylene Regulates Root Growth and Development; Daniel R. Lewis and Gloria K. Muday

Abscisic Acid in Root Growth and Development; Ive De Smet and Hanma Zhang

Brassinosteroid Signaling in Root Development; Josep Vilarrasa-Blasi, Mary-Paz González-García, and Ana I. Caño-Delgado

Role of Strigolactones in Root Development and Communication; Hinanit Koltai

Root Gravitropism; Ranjan Swarup, Darren M. Wells, and Malcolm J. Bennett

Calcium: From Root Macronutrient to Mechanical Signal; Sarah Swanson and Simon Gilroy

Soil Resource Acquisition

Root-Based Solutions to Increasing Crop Productivity; Michelle Watt, Anton P. Wasson, and Vincent Chochois

Root Architecture and Resource Acquisition; Ahmad M. Manschadi, Günther G.B. Manske, and Paul L.G. Vlek

Root pH Regulation; Jóska Gerendás and R. George Ratcliffe

Root Water Uptake and Water Flow in the Soil–Root Domain; Guillaume Lobet, Charles Hachez, François Chaumont, Mathieu Javaux, and Xavier Draye

Inorganic Nitrogen Acquisition and Signaling; Alain Gojon

Nutrient Uptake and Root System Architecture Modeling; Moshe Silberbush, Amram Eshel, and Jonathan P. Lynch

Global Change and Root Lifespan; David M. Eissenstat, M. Luke McCormack, and Quanying Du

Developmental Adaptations in Roots of Desert Plants with Special Emphasis on Cacti; Joseph G. Dubrovsky and Svetlana Shishkova

Root Systems of Woody Plants; Frédéric Danjon, Alexia Stokes, and Mark R. Bakker

Roots as a Source of Food; Daniel F. Austin and Robert Jarret

Root Response to Stress

Temperature Effects on Root Growth; Marc Faget, Stephan Blossfeld, Siegfried Jahnke, Gregor Huber, Ulrich Schurr, and Kerstin A. Nagel

Flooding Tolerance Mechanisms in Roots; Kurt V. Fagerstedt, Olga B. Blokhina, Chiara Pucciariello, and Pierdomenico Perata

Plant Roots under Aluminum Stress; Hideaki Matsumoto and Yoko Yamamoto

Root Responses to Trace Metallic Elements; Nathalie Verbruggen and Christian Hermans

Maintaining Root Growth in Drying Soil; Eric S. Ober and Robert E. Sharp

Effects of Salinity on Root Growth; Nirit Bernstein

Soil Mechanical Resistance and Root Growth and Function; W. Richard Whalley and A. Glyn Bengough

Root–Rhizosphere Interactions

Fungal Root Endophytes; Thomas N. Sieber and Christoph R. Grünig

Molecular Physiology of Tree Ectomycorrhizal Interactions; Mohammad Tanbir Habib, Till Heller, and Andrea Polle

Mycorrhizae—Rhizosphere Determinants of Plant Communities; Ingrid Kottke amd Gábor M. Kovács

Response of Soybean Roots to Soybean Cyst Nematode at the Molecular Levell; Benjamin F. Matthews, Heba M.M. Ibrahim, Parsa Hosseini, Nadim Alkharouf, and Savithiry Natarajan

Modern Research Techniques

Minirhizotron Techniques; Boris Rewald and Jhonathan E. Ephrath

Noninvasive Tools for Measuring Metabolism and Biophysical Analyte Transport at the Root–Rhizosphere Interface; Eric S. McLamore and D. Marshall Porterfield


About the Editors

Amram Eshel was born and raised in Israel. He received his degrees from Tel Aviv University, where he was a member of the academic staff from 1980 until his retirement in 2012. During this time, he held short visiting appointments at Ohio Agricultural Research Center in Wooster, Ohio; Michigan State University; The Pennsylvania State University; CNRS at Gif-Sur-Yvette; and University of Western Australia. His main research interests are in the area of plant physiological ecology, especially as related to mineral nutrition and water relations. He is the manager of the Sarah Racine Root Research Laboratory at Tel Aviv University.

Tom Beeckman studied botany at Ghent University in Belgium and, after performing postdoctoral research at the Molecular Genetics Department, became group leader of the Root Development Group at the Flanders Institute of Biotechnology (VIB) in 2001. In 2007, he became a professor at Ghent University, teaching plant developmental biology. He has devoted a considerable part of his research to understanding how cell division is integrated into plant developmental processes, especially during the branching of roots.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SCIENCE / Life Sciences / Botany
SCIENCE / Life Sciences / General
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Agriculture / General