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Real-time lineage analysis reveals oriented cell divisions associated with morphogenesis at the shoot apex of Arabidopsis thaliana
G. Venugopala Reddy, Marcus G. Heisler, David W. Ehrhardt, Elliot M. Meyerowitz


Precise knowledge of spatial and temporal patterns of cell division, including number and orientation of divisions, and knowledge of cell expansion, is central to understanding morphogenesis. Our current knowledge of cell division patterns during plant and animal morphogenesis is largely deduced from analysis of clonal shapes and sizes. But such an analysis can reveal only the number, not the orientation or exact rate, of cell divisions. In this study, we have analyzed growth in real time by monitoring individual cell divisions in the shoot apical meristems (SAMs) of Arabidopsis thaliana. The live imaging technique has led to the development of a spatial and temporal map of cell division patterns. We have integrated cell behavior over time to visualize growth. Our analysis reveals temporal variation in mitotic activity and the cell division is coordinated across clonally distinct layers of cells. Temporal variation in mitotic activity is not correlated to the estimated plastochron length and diurnal rhythms. Cell division rates vary across the SAM surface. Cells in the peripheral zone (PZ) divide at a faster rate than in the central zone (CZ). Cell division rates in the CZ are relatively heterogeneous when compared with PZ cells. We have analyzed the cell behavior associated with flower primordium development starting from a stage at which the future flower comprises four cells in the L1 epidermal layer. Primordium development is a sequential process linked to distinct cellular behavior. Oriented cell divisions, in primordial progenitors and in cells located proximal to them, are associated with initial primordial outgrowth. The oriented cell divisions are followed by a rapid burst of cell expansion and cell division, which transforms a flower primordium into a three-dimensional flower bud. Distinct lack of cell expansion is seen in a narrow band of cells, which forms the boundary region between developing flower bud and the SAM. We discuss these results in the context of SAM morphogenesis.


  • Movies available online

    • Accepted May 11, 2004.
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