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Positive tropisms are the directional movement towards the stimulus while negative tropisms are the directional movement away from the stimulus. Examples of stimuli causing tropisms in plants are gravity and light. Roots will grow towards gravity while the plant shoot will grow upwards in the opposite direction.

The directional movement of plants in response to light is called phototropism. As seen with gravity, the plant’s roots will grow away from the light, into the soil (negative phototropism) while the plant shoot will grow towards the light (positive phototropism). Positive phototropism seen at the tips of plant shoots is made possible due to plant hormones called auxins.

Auxins are produced at the tips of plant shoots and then translocate to the darker side of the shoot tip and stem which is receiving less light. This translocation is made possible via auxin efflux carriers which are unevenly distributed in the plant tissue.

Once auxins reach the shaded side of the plant, they cause the elongation of cells so that the shaded side grows faster than the brighter side, thereby promoting the bending of the plant shoot towards the light. Auxins do so by binding to auxin receptors on cells.
The binding of auxin causes the transcription of certain genes within those cells and therefore the production of specific proteins which affect growth.

Auxins allow the expelling of protons (hydrogen ions) into the cell walls of the cells on the shaded side, decreasing the pH inside the cells and in doing so activate specific enzymes which break down cellulose microfibrils within the cell wall.

This loosens the cell wall and allows cell elongation. So to conclude, auxins are very important in the control of plant growth towards the light and thereby allow the plant to increase its rate of photosynthesis.

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