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Bioessays. 2005 May;27(5):533-41.

Patterned cell determination in a plant tissue: the secondary phloem of trees.

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  • 1School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, Woodland Road, Bristol BS8 1UG, UK.


The secondary vascular tissues (xylem and phloem) of woody plants originate from a vascular cambium and develop as radially oriented files of cells. The secondary phloem is composed of three or four cell types, which are organised into characteristic recurrent cellular sequences within the radial cell files of this tissue. There is a gradient of auxin (indole acetic acid) across both the cambium and the immediately postmitotic cells within the xylem and phloem domains, and it is believed that this morphogen, probably in concert with other morphogenic factors, is closely associated with the determination and differentiation of the different cells types in each tissue. A hypothesis is developed that, in conjunction with the positional values conferred by the graded radial distribution of morphogen, cell divisions at particular positions within the cambium are sufficient to determine not only each of the phloem cell types but also their recurrent pattern of differentiation within each radial cell file.

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