Review: Connecting the pieces: uncovering the molecular basis for long-distance communication through plant grafting (New Phytol)

Grafting is an ancient vegetative asexual plant propagation technique. It is characterized by the connection of two plant segments, the shoot piece known as ‘scion’ and the root piece called ‘rootstock’ or simply ‘stock’. Grafting is widely used in agriculture to improve crop production and provide tolerance to biotic and abiotic stress. Beyond its use in horticultural production, it has received great prominence as an important tool in biological research, mainly regarding signalling mechanisms related to root-shoot communication. In this review, Thomas and Frank highlight how plant grafting has facilitated the discovery of new long-distance signalling molecules that coordinate root–shoot growth responses to drought stress, light and nitrogen availability. Plant vascular systems may serve not only as conduits for the translocation of essential substances but also as long-distance communication pathways that allow plants to adapt to changes in internal and external environments at the whole plant level. (Summarized by Francesca Resentini) New Phytol. 10.1111/nph.15772