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Plant Growth Regulators

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How Does Plant Growth and Development Take Place?

IVSAT 2024

Do you ever wonder how plants grow? What factors are responsible for their growth or what chemicals assist them in the process? If the answer to these questions is yes, then Vedantu is here to answer them. Understanding this topic will not only satisfy your curiosity but will also help you in scoring good marks in botany.


Light, water, minerals, oxygen along with other nutrients are the things that plants need for their growth and development. Apart from these, plants also need certain organic compounds to signal, regulate and control their growth. These are known as the Plant Growth Regulators or Hormones or Phytohormones. 


Plant growth regulators are the chemical substances that control the aspects of growth and development within the plants completely. They are also known as plant growth hormones or phytohormones.


Plant growth hormones are those organic compounds that are either produced naturally within the plants or are synthesized in laboratories. They control and modify physiological processes like the growth, development and movement of plants.


Plant growth regulators can be broadly classified into two categories namely- 

  • Plant growth promoters

  • Plant growth inhibitors


Auxins, Gibberellins and Cytokinins are grouped into Plant growth promoters while Abscisic acid and Ethylene are grouped into Plant growth inhibitors. Ethylene can be grouped either into the promoters or into the plant inhibitors.


Types of Plant Growth

  • Primary and Secondary Growth

The meristematic cells present at the root and shoot apiece segregate mitotically and increase the length of the plant body. This is known as primary growth. Secondary growth is referred to as the increase in the diameter of the plant body by the division of the secondary meristem.

  • Unlimited Growth

When the plant continually grows from the germination stage to death, it is called unlimited growth.

  • Limited Growth

In this stage, the plant parts stop growing after acquiring a certain size.

  • Vegetative Growth

It involves the production of stems, leaves and branches except for the flowers.

  • Reproductive Growth

When flowering occurs, that type of growth stage is called reproductive growth. 


What are the Factors affecting Plant Growth? 

Four major factors affect the growth of plants. They are:

  1. Light

Plants are autotrophs which means they require light for manufacturing their food. Limited light or the absence of it greatly affects the growth of the plant. The intensity of light, quality of light and light duration influence the movement of stomata, chlorophyll synthesis, photosynthesis, and various other physiological factors. Light also helps in the process of flowering and fruiting. During winters when the days are short, the growth of the plants is retarded. 

  1. Water

We know that plants cannot survive without water and around 90% of the plant body comprises water. Plants become deadly in the absence of water and die. Water present in the soil is absorbed by the plant which absorbs and transports the nutrients along with it to keep it hydrated. 

  1. Temperature

Plant growth is greatly influenced by temperatures. High temperature helps speed up transpiration, photosynthesis and germination processes. Low temperature is considered harmful for the plants as it slows down their growth.

  1. Nutrients

Plants need proper nourishment for their growth and development. Soil nutrients are divided into macronutrients and micronutrients. Nitrogen, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulphur and phosphorus are some of the most important macronutrients that are required by plants. The deficiency of these nutrients in plants makes them prone to several diseases. Even if a single nutrient is lacking, it results in stunted growth of the plant.


Discovery of Plant Growth Regulators

The discovery of major plant growth regulators began with Charles Darwin and his son Francis Darwin. They observed the growth of coleoptiles of canary grass towards the light source known as Phototropism. By following a series of experiments, they concluded that the presence of a spreading substance helps in the growth of the canary grass towards the light. The transmittable substance is known as the Auxin. A scientist named Miller discovered another growth-promoting substance named Kinetin which is now known as Cytokinins. 


What are the Characteristics of Plant Growth Regulators?

Along with some chemical substances, plants also require water, oxygen, sunlight and nutrition to grow and develop well. These chemicals are called Plant Growth Regulators and are produced naturally by the plants themselves. They are also described as phytohormones, plant growth substances, or plant growth hormones as they can accelerate the growth of plants. 


Plant growth hormones exhibit the following characteristics:

  • Differentiation and elongation of cells

  • Formation of leaves, flowers and stems

  • Wilting of leaves

  • Ripening of fruit

  • Seed dormancy, etc

Generally, there are five types of plant hormones namely: auxin, gibberellins (GAs), cytokinins, abscisic acid (ABA) and ethylene.


Types of Plant Growth Regulators

Plant growth hormones or regulators are of two types:

  • Plant Growth Promoters- Auxin, Gibberellins, Cytokinins

  • Plant Growth Inhibitors- Abscisic Acid, Ethylene


This distinction is based on the role that they play. Hormones that help in the growth of the plants are known as promoters whereas hormones that restrict the process of growth are known as inhibitors.


Plant Growth Promoters

Auxins

The first phytohormone that was discovered is the Auxin discovered by the biologist Charles Darwin. Auxins play a very important role as a plant hormone. The chief naturally occurring auxin is indole-3 acetic acid – IAA and other related compounds. The term Auxin is derived from the Greek language which means ‘To grow’.


These plant growth hormones are generally produced at the points of stems and roots from where they are transported to other parts of the plants. These plant hormones involve both natural and synthetic sources. Indole-3-acetic acid and indole butyric acid are obtained from natural plant sources, whereas naphthalene acetic acid and 2, 4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid are produced from synthetic sources.


Functions of  Auxins

  • It promotes flowering in plants.

  • It is used in the process of plant propagation.

  • It is used by gardeners to keep lawns free from weeds.

  • It is involved in the initiation of roots in stem cuttings.

  • It prevents the dropping of fruits and leaves at early stages.

  • It is used for the production of fruit without preceding fertilization.

  • It helps in the natural detachment of older leaves and fruits.

  • Apical dominance may occur in which the growth of lateral buds is inhibited by the growth of apical buds. In such cases, the shoot caps should be removed.


Gibberellins

Gibberellins are an extensive chemical family based on the ent-gibberellin structure. The first gibberellin to be discovered was gibberellic acid. Now there are more than 100 types of gibberellins and are mainly obtained from a variety of organisms from fungi to higher plants.


Functions of Gibberellins

  • They help to delay senescence in fruits.

  • They are involved in leaf expansion.

  • They break bud and seed dormancy.

  • They promote bolting in cabbages and beet.

  • They help fruits to elongate and improvise their shape.

  • They are used by the brewing industry for increasing the speed of the malting process.

  • They are used as the spraying agent to increase sugarcane yield by lengthening the stem.

  • They are used to increase the maturity period in young conifers and promote early seed production.


Cytokinins

Cytokinins are produced in the regions where cell division occurs, mostly in the roots and shoots. They help in the production of new leaves, lateral shoot growth, chloroplasts in leaves etc. They help in overcoming apical dominance and delay the ageing of leaves.


Functions of Cytokinins

  • They break bud and seed dormancy.

  • It promotes the growth of the lateral bud.

  • It promotes cell division and apical dominance.

  • They are used to keep flowers fresh for a maximum time.

  • They are used in tissue culture to induce cell division in mature tissues.

  • They promote lateral shoot growth and adventitious shoot formation.

  • It helps to delay the process of ageing (senescence) in fresh leaf crops like cabbage and lettuce.

  • They are involved in the formation of new leaves and chloroplast organelles within the plant cell.

  • They are used to induce the development of shoot and roots along with auxin, depending on the ratio.


Plant Growth Inhibitors

Abscisic Acid

It is a growth inhibitor that was discovered in the 1960s. This growth inhibitor is processed within the stem, leaves, fruits and seeds of the plant. Abscisic acid mostly acts as an enemy to Gibberellic acid. It is also known as the stress hormone as it helps by increasing the tolerance of plants to different kinds of stress.


Functions of Abscisic Acid

  • It stimulates the closing of stomata in the epidermis

  • It helps in the development and maturation of seeds

  • It inhibits plant metabolism and seed germination.

  • It is involved in regulating abscission and dormancy.

  • It is widely used as a spraying agent on trees to regulate the dropping of fruits.

  • It induces dormancy in seeds and helps in withstanding desiccation and other unfavourable growth factors.


Ethylene

Ethylene is a simple,  gaseous plant growth regulator, synthesised by most of the plant organs including ripening fruits and ageing tissues. It is an unsaturated hydrocarbon having double covalent bonds between and adjacent to carbon atoms.


Functions of Ethylene

Ethylene is the most widely used plant growth inducer as it helps in regulating many physiological processes.

  • It induces flowering in the mango tree.

  • It promotes the sprouting of potato tubers.

  • It breaks the dormancy of seeds and buds.

  • It enhances the respiration rate during the ripening of fruits.

  • It is applied to rubber trees to start the flow of latex.

  • It promotes abscission and senescence of both leaves and flowers.

  • It is used to stimulate the ripening of fruits. For example, tomatoes and citrus fruits.

  • It affects the horizontal growth of seedlings and swelling of the axis in dicot seedlings.

  • It increases the absorption of plants by increasing the root and hair formation. 

Thus, it can be concluded that plant hormones or plant growth regulators play a vital role in the growth and development of plants.


Fun Facts about Plant Growth Regulators

  • Gibberellin is used in the cultivation of fruits to help unfertilised fruits such as pears and apples to mature fully.

  • The concentration of Cytokinins is highest in the youngest part of the plant.

  • Supplying Cytokinins results in faster flower formation.

  • Apart from being responsible for the ripening of fruits, ethylene causes leaves to shed.

  • Accumulation of ethylene around roots can lead to leaf chlorosis, stem thickening and leaves bending towards the stem. This makes plants more susceptible to diseases.

  • Abscisic acid is responsible for the closing of stomata during water stress.

  • Flowering in plants can be manipulated with the help of a plant growth regulator named florigen.


Conclusion

Having gone through this topic you have learnt about plant hormones which regulate their growth and also you have understood the topic of factors affecting their growth. 


After reading this topic from Vedantu's website you will be able to answer questions related to this topic not just in your board exams but also in various medical entrance exams.

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FAQs on Plant Growth Regulators

1. What are Plant Growth Regulators?

Light, water, minerals, oxygen along with other nutrients are the things which plants need for their growth and development. Apart from these, plants also need certain organic compounds to signal, regulate and control the growth of plants. These are known as the Plant Growth Regulators or Hormones or Phytohormones.

2. What are the types of plant growth?

  1. Unlimited Growth 

  2. Vegetable Growth 

  3. Primary and Secondary Growth

  4. Limited Growth 

  5. Reproductive Growth 

3. What are the functions of Gibberellins?

  1. Help to delay senescence in fruits.

  2. They are involved in leaf expansion.

  3. Break bud and seed dormancy.

  4. Promote bolting in cabbages and beet.

  5. Help fruits to elongate and improvise their shape.

  6. They are used by the brewing industry for increasing the speed of the malting process.

  7. Used as the spraying agent to increase sugarcane yield by lengthening of the stem.

  8. Used to increase the maturity period in young conifers and promote early seed production

4. What are the types of Plant Growth Regulators?

Plant growth hormones or regulators are of two types:

  • Plant Growth Promoters

  • Plant Growth Inhibitors

5. What are the functions of Ethylene?

Ethylene is the most widely used plant growth inducer as it helps in regulating many physiological processes.


  • Induce flowering in the mango tree.

  • Promotes sprouting of potato tubers.

  • Breaks the dormancy of seeds and buds.

  • Enhances respiration rate during ripening of fruits.

  • Applied to rubber trees to start the flow of latex.

  • Promotes abscission and senescence of both leaves and flowers.

  • Used to stimulate the ripening of fruits. For example, tomatoes and citrus fruits.

  • Affects the horizontal growth of seedlings and swelling of the axis in dicot seedlings.

  • Increases the absorption of plants by an increase in the root and hair formation.

6. What are the characteristics of plant growth hormones?

Plants growth hormones exhibit the following characteristics:

  • Differentiation and elongation of cells.

  • Formation of leaves, flowers, and stems.

  • Wilting of leaves.

  • Ripening of fruit.

  • Seed dormancy, etc

7. Which plant growth regulators have been included in Plant Growth Regulators?

Plant Growth Regulators is a very important topic in Botany. Plant growth regulators are hormones that control growth at various levels in plants. In this section, regulators included are Auxins, Gibberellins, Cytokinins, Abscisic acid, and Ethylene. The first three, Auxins, Gibberellins, and Cytokinins are categorized as Plant growth promoters.  Abscisic acid and Ethylene are categorized as Plant growth inhibitors. Ethylene, sometimes, is grouped either as a promoter or a plant growth inhibitor. Apart from this, factors affecting the growth of plants are also discussed.

8. How important is Gibberellins among Plant Growth Regulators?

Gibberellins is one of the several Plant Growth Regulators. It is very important as it is responsible for cell elongation that helps plants grow taller. 


It also has the following uses:

  • It facilitates seed germination.

  • It is spread over the grapes. This helps in their enlargement.

  • To obtain all male flowers, they are sprayed over the cucumber plants.

  • To obtain flowers in biennial flowers during lower temperatures as well, they are sprayed with gibberellins.

  • Dwarf varieties of plants can be made to grow by the application of gibberellins.

9. How relevant are Plant Growth Regulators?

The topic of Plant Growth Regulators is very important for the NEET exams. This topic discusses the role of plant hormones in the growth of plants.  NEET exam consists of about 30 questions in the biology section. At least 1-2 questions can be expected from this topic. You can understand what type of questions are expected by going through the previous year's papers. They will help you gauge how much depth you need to study about each regulator.

10. Which among the Plant Growth Regulators are responsible for cell division?

Cytokinins among the Plant Growth Regulators is responsible for cell division. It is one of the plant growth promoters as it promotes growth by dividing cells. It is vital for cell proliferation and differentiation. It also plays a crucial role in the process of embryogenesis, maintenance of plant roots, shoots, and meristems. It also plays a vital role in nutrient transportation. Cytokinins are produced in the root apical meristems. They travel upward with water and travel up the stem through the xylem.

11. From which sources can I cover the topic of Plant Growth Regulators?

You can cover the topic of Plant Growth Regulators from NCERT Class 11 Biology. It covers this topic in great detail. It is suggested to cover this topic from Vedantu’s website as well. Because the content is curated by the subject matter experts of Biology. This will help you not just in Class 11 but also in the NEET, AIIMS, and JIPMER examinations. You can refer to important questions of CBSE Class 11 Biology to understand which part needs to be studied more.


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