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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Apr 14;112(15):4815-20. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1502588112. Epub 2015 Mar 30.

Analysis of cell division patterns in the Arabidopsis shoot apical meristem.

Author information

Department of Mathematics, California State University, Northridge, CA 91330; Division of Biology and Biological Engineering and.
Division of Biology and Biological Engineering and.
Department of Computer Science, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697.
Division of Biology and Biological Engineering and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125; and


The stereotypic pattern of cell shapes in the Arabidopsis shoot apical meristem (SAM) suggests that strict rules govern the placement of new walls during cell division. When a cell in the SAM divides, a new wall is built that connects existing walls and divides the cytoplasm of the daughter cells. Because features that are determined by the placement of new walls such as cell size, shape, and number of neighbors are highly regular, rules must exist for maintaining such order. Here we present a quantitative model of these rules that incorporates different observed features of cell division. Each feature is incorporated into a "potential function" that contributes a single term to a total analog of potential energy. New cell walls are predicted to occur at locations where the potential function is minimized. Quantitative terms that represent the well-known historical rules of plant cell division, such as those given by Hofmeister, Errera, and Sachs are developed and evaluated against observed cell divisions in the epidermal layer (L1) of Arabidopsis thaliana SAM. The method is general enough to allow additional terms for nongeometric properties such as internal concentration gradients and mechanical tensile forces.


Arabidopsis; cell division; computer modeling; live imaging

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