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Bioessays. 2001 Feb;23(2):134-41.

Functional domains in plant shoot meristems.

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  • 1Institut für Entwicklungsbiologie der Universität zu Köln, Germany.


The development of higher plants depends on the activity of a shoot apical meristem. Organs are formed on the flanks of the meristem, while pluripotent stem cells are found in a separate domain in the meristem centre. Further domains are distinguished by the expression patterns of genes that control the development of the shoot meristem. Although most plant cells are immobile, their relative position within a meristem, and therefore also their function, can change after cell divisions. To maintain an active shoot meristem throughout plant life, the cells in the meristem need constantly to assess their position, transmit this information to others, and readjust their gene expression profiles and their fate. Some of the genes that permit intercellular communication have been isolated. They enable the flow of information in and between meristem regions via ligands and receptor proteins to transcription factors, that ultimately control the fate of cells in the centre of the meristem.

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