The spermatophyte root system is composed of a primary root that develops from an embryonically formed root meristem, and of different post-embryonic root types: lateral and adventitious roots. Adventitious roots, arising from the stem of the plants, are the main component of the mature root system of many plants. Their development can also be induced in response to adverse environmental conditions or stresses. Here, in this review, we report on the morphological and functional diversity of adventitious roots and their origin. The hormonal and molecular regulation of the constitutive and inducible adventitious root initiation and development is discussed. Recent data confirmed the crucial role of the auxin/cytokinin balance in adventitious rooting. Nevertheless, other hormones must be considered. At the genetic level, adventitious root formation integrates the transduction of external signals, as well as a core auxin-regulated developmental pathway that is shared with lateral root formation. The knowledge acquired from adventitious root development opens new perspectives to improve micropropagation by cutting in recalcitrant species, root system architecture of crops such as cereals, and to understand how plants adapted during evolution to the terrestrial environment by producing different post-embryonic root types.
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