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Plant Cell. 2004 Sep;16(9):2278-92. Epub 2004 Aug 17.

A high-resolution transcript profile across the wood-forming meristem of poplar identifies potential regulators of cambial stem cell identity.

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Umeå Plant Science Centre, Department of Forest Genetics and Plant Physiology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, 90183 Umeå, Sweden.


Plant growth is the result of cell proliferation in meristems, which requires a careful balance between the formation of new tissue and the maintenance of a set of undifferentiated stem cells. Recent studies have provided important information on several genetic networks responsible for stem cell maintenance and regulation of cell differentiation in the apical meristems of shoots and roots. Nothing, however, is known about the regulatory networks in secondary meristems like the vascular cambium of trees. We have made use of the large size and highly regular layered organization of the cambial meristem to create a high-resolution transcriptional map covering 220 microm of the cambial region of aspen (Populus tremula). Clusters of differentially expressed genes revealed substantial differences in the transcriptomes of the six anatomically homogenous cell layers in the meristem zone. Based on transcriptional and anatomical data, we present a model for the position of the stem cells and the proliferating mother cells in the cambial zone. We also provide sets of marker genes for different stages of xylem and phloem differentiation and identify potential regulators of cambial meristem activity. Interestingly, analysis of known regulators of apical meristem development indicates substantial similarity in regulatory networks between primary and secondary meristems.

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