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Pixelated plants shed light on cell size control

Date:
October 29, 2015
Source:
John Innes Centre
Summary:
The stem cells that sustain plant growth actively control their size, researchers have discovered, adding that this process is important for the correct development of organs such as flowers.
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Research carried out at the John Innes Centre has shown that the stem cells that sustain plant growth actively control their size and that this process is important for the correct development of organs such as flowers.

Cells have characteristic sizes in different organisms and in different tissues in the same organism. How cells regulate their size and how cell size affects organism growth are among the remaining mysteries in cell biology. Research carried out at the John Innes Centre has shown that the stem cells that sustain plant growth actively control their size and that this process is important for the correct development of organs such as flowers. The research, conducted by Professor Robert Sablowski at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, is published in the journal Current Biology.

To grow new leaves and flowers, plants continuously produce new cells within their meristems at their growing tips. The meristem cells, which are analogous to stem cells in animals, grow and divide constantly, but maintain uniform and characteristically small sizes. Studying meristem cells recovering from genetic perturbations that had caused the cells to become larger, Professor Sablowski's group made two important observations:

  • firstly, when the perturbation that increased cell size was lifted, the meristem cells accelerated their divisions and consequently returned to their normal size; and
  • secondly, if cells were forced to remain large while they were being recruited into organ formation, the organs often failed to emerge properly from the meristem or became fused.

Professor Robert Sablowski said: "We propose that the control of cell sizes and cell size uniformity are important to achieve the resolution necessary to develop structures at a scale just a few cells across. This is similar to the way that appropriate pixel sizes are necessary to render detail in digital images."

Apart from advancing our understanding of how plants regulate their growth and shape, this research presents new questions for stem cell researchers in regards to cell size checkpoints and their importance during organism development.


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Materials provided by John Innes Centre. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Robert Sablowski et al. Active control of cell size generates spatial detail during plant organogenesis. Current Biology, October 2015 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2015.10.008

Cite This Page:

John Innes Centre. "Pixelated plants shed light on cell size control." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 October 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151029134801.htm>.
John Innes Centre. (2015, October 29). Pixelated plants shed light on cell size control. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 23, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151029134801.htm
John Innes Centre. "Pixelated plants shed light on cell size control." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151029134801.htm (accessed May 23, 2017).

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