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Annu Rev Plant Biol. 2011;62:365-85. doi: 10.1146/annurev-arplant-042110-103852.

The role of mechanical forces in plant morphogenesis.

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INRA, CNRS, ENS, Université de Lyon, 46 Allée d'Italie, 69364 Lyon Cedex 07, France.


The shape of an organism relies on a complex network of genetic regulations and on the homeostasis and distribution of growth factors. In parallel to the molecular control of growth, shape changes also involve major changes in structure, which by definition depend on the laws of mechanics. Thus, to understand morphogenesis, scientists have turned to interdisciplinary approaches associating biology and physics to investigate the contribution of mechanical forces in morphogenesis, sometimes re-examining theoretical concepts that were laid out by early physiologists. Major advances in the field have notably been possible thanks to the development of computer simulations and live quantitative imaging protocols in recent years. Here, we present the mechanical basis of shape changes in plants, focusing our discussion on undifferentiated tissues. How can growth be translated into a quantified geometrical output? What is the mechanical basis of cell and tissue growth? What is the contribution of mechanical forces in patterning?

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