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Biosystems. 2012 Sep;109(3):488-97. doi: 10.1016/j.biosystems.2012.03.004. Epub 2012 Mar 29.

Dynamic regulation of growing domains for elongating and branching morphogenesis in plants.

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Chemistry Department, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C., Canada.


With their continuous growth, understanding how plant shapes form is fundamentally linked to understanding how growth rates are controlled across different regions of the plant. Much of a plant's architecture is generated in shoots and roots, where fast growth in tips contrasts with slow growth in supporting stalks. Shapes can be determined by where the boundaries between fast- and slow-growing regions are positioned, determining whether tips elongate, branch, or cease to grow. Across plants, there is a diversity in the cell wall chemistry through which growth operates. However, prototypical morphologies, such as tip growth and branching, suggest there are common dynamic constraints in localizing chemical growth catalysts. We have used Turing-type reaction-diffusion mechanisms to model this spatial localization and the resulting growth trajectories, characterizing the chemistry-growth feedback necessary for maintaining tip growth and for inducing branching. The mechanism defining the boundaries between fast- and slow-growing regions not only affects tip shape, it must be able to form new boundaries when the pattern-forming dynamics break symmetry, for instance in the branching of a tip. In previous work, we used an arbitrary concentration threshold to switch between two dynamic regimes of the growth catalyst in order to define growth boundaries. Here, we present a chemical dynamic basis for this threshold, in which feedback between two pattern-forming mechanisms controls the extent of the regions in which fast growth occurs. This provides a general self-contained mechanism for growth control in plant morphogenesis (not relying on external cues) which can account for both simple tip extension and symmetry-breaking branching phenomena.

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