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As photoautotrophs, plants are exquisitely sensitive to their light environment. Light affects many developmental and physiological responses throughout plants' life histories. The focus of this chapter is on light effects during the crucial period of time between seed germination and the development of the first true leaves. During this time, the seedling must determine the appropriate mode of action to best achieve photosynthetic and eventual reproductive success. Light exposure triggers several major developmental and physiological events. These include: growth inhibition and differentiation of the embryonic stem (hypocotyl); maturation of the embryonic leaves (cotyledons); and establishment and activation of the stem cell population in the shoot and root apical meristems. Recent studies have linked a number of photoreceptors, transcription factors, and phytohormones to each of these events.