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Plant Cell Physiol. 2000 Jun;41(6):649-56.

Integrating cellular and organismic aspects of vascular differentiation.

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Department of Plant Sciences, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel.


Vascular differentiation can be studied at two levels, and they should complement one another: as an aspect of integrated plant development and as cellular processes. The differentiation of organized strands that connect between organs is induced by polar auxin flow, towards the roots. Anatomy, therefore, can be a complementary method of observing polarity and its changes. As expected for a self-correcting and essential system, vascular patterning mutations are relatively rare and have pleiotropic effects, including modifications of responses to auxin and its transport. Tissue polarity both expresses and depends on auxin transport, a feedback that could account for the determined nature of polarity as well as the gradual canalization of differentiation to vascular strands. This predicts that the molecules responsible for polarity will be localized gradually as differentiation proceeds. Further, a modified location of these molecules can be expected to precede anatomical expressions of a new, regenerated, polarity. Tracheary differentiation is probably the best studied example of cell differentiation. Within the plant, however, this differentiation is coupled to oriented cell growth either along or at right angles to the axis of auxin flow, depending on tissue competence. Differentiation is also coupled to the differentiation of the other components of the vascular system. There are, presumably, early joint stages to these differentiation processes, but what they are remains an intriguing problem.

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