Journal Article

Flowering and apical meristem growth dynamics

Dorota Kwiatkowska

in Journal of Experimental Botany

Published on behalf of Society for Experimental Biology

Volume 59, issue 2, pages 187-201
Published in print February 2008 | ISSN: 0022-0957
Published online February 2008 | e-ISSN: 1460-2431 | DOI:
Flowering and apical meristem growth dynamics

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The shoot apical meristem generates stem, leaves, and lateral shoot meristems during the entire shoot ontogeny. Vegetative leaves are generated by the meristem in the vegetative developmental phase, while in the reproductive phase either bracts subtending lateral flower primordia (or paraclades), or perianth and strictly reproductive organs are formed. Meristem growth is fully characterized by the principal growth rates, directions, volumetric, and areal growth rates. Growth modelling or sequential in vivo methods of meristem observation complemented by growth quantification allow the above growth variables to be estimated. Indirectly, growth is assessed by cell division rates and other cell cycle parameters. Temporal and spatial changes of growth and geometry take place at the meristem during the transition from the vegetative to the reproductive phase. During the vegetative phase, meristem growth is generally indeterminate. In the reproductive phase it is almost always determinate, but the extent of determinacy depends on the inflorescence architecture. In the vegetative phase the central meristem zone is the slowest growing region. The transition from the vegetative to the reproductive phase is accompanied by an increase in mitotic activity in this zone. The more determinate is the meristem growth, the stronger is this mitotic activation. However, regardless of the extent of the activation, in angiosperms the tunica/corpus structure of the meristem is preserved and therefore the mitotic activity of germ line cells remains relatively low. In the case of the thoroughly studied model angiosperm plant Arabidopsis thaliana, it is important to recognize that the flower primordium develops in the axil of a rudimentary bract. Another important feature of growth of the inflorescence shoot apical meristem is the heterogeneity of the peripheral zone. Finally, the role of mechanical factors in growth and functioning of the meristem needs further investigation.

Keywords: Flower primordium; geometry; growth; inflorescence; shoot apical meristem; transition from vegetative to reproductive phase

Journal Article.  11028 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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