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Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2008 Feb;11(1):23-7. Epub 2007 Dec 3.

Emerging role of cytokinin as a regulator of cellular differentiation.

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Dipartimento di Genetica e Biologia Molecolare, Laboratory of Functional Genomics and Proteomics of Model Systems, Università La Sapienza, P.le Aldo Moro 5, 00185 Rome, Italy.


Perhaps the most amazing feature of plants is their ability to grow and regenerate for years, sometimes even centuries. This fascinating characteristic is achieved thanks to the activity of stem cells, which reside in the shoot and root apical meristems. Stem cells function as a reserve of undifferentiated cells to replace organs and sustain postembryonic plant growth. To maintain meristem function, stem cells have to generate new cells at a rate similar to that of cells leaving the meristem and differentiating, thus achieving a balance between cell division and cell differentiation. Recent findings have improved our knowledge on the molecular mechanisms necessary to establish this balance and reveal a fundamental signaling role for the plant hormone cytokinin. Evidence has been provided to show that in the root meristem cytokinin acts in defined developmental domains to control cell differentiation rate, thus controlling root meristem size.

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