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Genetic control of distal stem cell fate within root and embryonic meristems

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Science  06 Feb 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6222, pp. 655-659
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa0196

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Genetic control of stem cell fate in plant roots

Without roots, most plants cannot thrive. Crawford et al. have now unearthed the robust control systems that build roots. Signaling by the plant hormone auxin triggers three genes that control the development of stem cells forming the root. With this trio of genes, any one of which can do the job, root development is backed up with fail-safe controls. The team could use the same system of controls to sprout roots in the wrong places, making roots instead of shoots.

Science, this issue p. 655

Abstract

The root meristem consists of populations of distal and proximal stem cells and an organizing center known as the quiescent center. During embryogenesis, initiation of the root meristem occurs when an asymmetric cell division of the hypophysis forms the distal stem cells and quiescent center. We have identified NO TRANSMITTING TRACT (NTT) and two closely related paralogs as being required for the initiation of the root meristem. All three genes are expressed in the hypophysis, and their expression is dependent on the auxin-signaling pathway. Expression of these genes is necessary for distal stem cell fate within the root meristem, whereas misexpression is sufficient to transform other stem cell populations to a distal stem cell fate in both the embryo and mature roots.

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