Research Article

Integration of growth and patterning during vascular tissue formation in Arabidopsis

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Science  08 Aug 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6197, 1255215
DOI: 10.1126/science.1255215

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How to plumb the root is the problem

The vascular system of the plant root is generated from four seemingly similar cells. At some point, though, these cells' decendents need to follow different fates. Combining computational modeling with manipulation of hormone signaling in Arabidopsis, De Rybel et al. discovered the importance of a small bridge connecting two of the four cells (see the Perspective by Mellor and Bishopp). This feature locked in asymmetry in hormone signaling, so that those cells closest to the xylem delivered the maximal response. Two feedback loops in the model function distinctly, with one generating a domain rich in auxin and the other establishing a sharp boundary between domains.

Science, this issue p. 10.1126/science.1255215; see also p. 622


Coordination of cell division and pattern formation is central to tissue and organ development, particularly in plants where walls prevent cell migration. Auxin and cytokinin are both critical for division and patterning, but it is unknown how these hormones converge upon tissue development. We identify a genetic network that reinforces an early embryonic bias in auxin distribution to create a local, nonresponding cytokinin source within the root vascular tissue. Experimental and theoretical evidence shows that these cells act as a tissue organizer by positioning the domain of oriented cell divisions. We further demonstrate that the auxin-cytokinin interaction acts as a spatial incoherent feed-forward loop, which is essential to generate distinct hormonal response zones, thus establishing a stable pattern within a growing vascular tissue.

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