Plant growth: the What, the How, and the Why - INRAE - Institut national de recherche pour l’agriculture, l’alimentation et l’environnement Access content directly
Journal Articles (Review Article) New Phytologist Year : 2021

Plant growth: the What, the How, and the Why


Growth is a widely used term in plant science and ecology, but it can have different meanings depending on the context and the spatiotemporal scale of analysis. At the meristem level, growth is associated with the production of cells and initiation of new organs. At the organ or plant scale and over short time periods, growth is often used synonymously with tissue expansion, while over longer time periods the increase in biomass is a common metric. At even larger temporal and spatial scales, growth is mostly described as net primary production. Here, we first address the question 'what is growth?'. We propose a general framework to distinguish between the different facets of growth, and the corresponding physiological processes, environmental drivers and mathematical formalisms. Based on these different definitions, we then review how plant growth can be measured and analysed at different organisational, spatial and temporal scales. We conclude by discussing why gaining a better understanding of the different facets of plant growth is essential to disentangle genetic and environmental effects on the phenotype, and to uncover the causalities around source or sink limitations of plant growth.

Dates and versions

hal-03322347 , version 1 (19-08-2021)



Jonas Hilty, Bertrand Muller, Florent Pantin, Sebastian Leuzinger. Plant growth: the What, the How, and the Why. New Phytologist, 2021, 232 (1), pp.25-41. ⟨10.1111/nph.17610⟩. ⟨hal-03322347⟩
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