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1.  Combined in silico/in vivo analysis of mechanisms providing for root apical meristem self-organization and maintenance 
Annals of Botany  2012;110(2):349-360.
Background and Aims
The root apical meristem (RAM) is the plant stem cell niche which provides for the formation and continuous development of the root. Auxin is the main regulator of RAM functioning, and auxin maxima coincide with the sites of RAM initiation and maintenance. Auxin gradients are formed due to local auxin biosynthesis and polar auxin transport. The PIN family of auxin transporters plays a critical role in polar auxin transport, and two mechanisms of auxin maximum formation in the RAM based on PIN-mediated auxin transport have been proposed to date: the reverse fountain and the reflected flow mechanisms.
The two mechanisms are combined here in in silico studies of auxin distribution in intact roots and roots cut into two pieces in the proximal meristem region. In parallel, corresponding experiments were performed in vivo using DR5::GFP Arabidopsis plants.
Key Results
The reverse fountain and the reflected flow mechanism naturally cooperate for RAM patterning and maintenance in intact root. Regeneration of the RAM in decapitated roots is provided by the reflected flow mechanism. In the excised root tips local auxin biosynthesis either alone or in cooperation with the reverse fountain enables RAM maintenance.
The efficiency of a dual-mechanism model in guiding biological experiments on RAM regeneration and maintenance is demonstrated. The model also allows estimation of the concentrations of auxin and PINs in root cells during development and under various treatments. The dual-mechanism model proposed here can be a powerful tool for the study of several different aspects of auxin function in root.
PMCID: PMC3394645  PMID: 22510326
Auxin response; root apical meristem; patterning; reverse fountain; reflected flow; mathematical model; Arabidopsis thaliana
2.  A plausible mechanism for auxin patterning along the developing root 
BMC Systems Biology  2010;4:98.
In plant roots, auxin is critical for patterning and morphogenesis. It regulates cell elongation and division, the development and maintenance of root apical meristems, and other processes. In Arabidopsis, auxin distribution along the central root axis has several maxima: in the root tip, in the basal meristem and at the shoot/root junction. The distal maximum in the root tip maintains the stem cell niche. Proximal maxima may trigger lateral or adventitious root initiation.
We propose a reflected flow mechanism for the formation of the auxin maximum in the root apical meristem. The mechanism is based on auxin's known activation and inhibition of expressed PIN family auxin carriers at low and high auxin levels, respectively. Simulations showed that these regulatory interactions are sufficient for self-organization of the auxin distribution pattern along the central root axis under varying conditions. The mathematical model was extended with rules for discontinuous cell dynamics so that cell divisions were also governed by auxin, and by another morphogen Division Factor which combines the actions of cytokinin and ethylene on cell division in the root. The positional information specified by the gradients of these two morphogens is able to explain root patterning along the central root axis.
We present here a plausible mechanism for auxin patterning along the developing root, that may provide for self-organization of the distal auxin maximum when the reverse fountain has not yet been formed or has been disrupted. In addition, the proximal maxima are formed under the reflected flow mechanism in response to periods of increasing auxin flow from the growing shoot. These events may predetermine lateral root initiation in a rhyzotactic pattern. Another outcome of the reflected flow mechanism - the predominance of lateral or adventitious roots in different plant species - may be based on the different efficiencies with which auxin inhibits its own transport in different species, thereby distinguishing two main types of plant root architecture: taproot vs. fibrous.
PMCID: PMC2921385  PMID: 20663170
3.  The Arabidopsis CDK inhibitor ICK3/KRP5 is rate limiting for primary root growth and promotes growth through cell elongation and endoreduplication 
The coordination of plant cell division and expansion controls plant morphogenesis, development, and growth. Cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) are not only key regulators of cell division but also play an important role in cell differentiation. In plants, CDK activity is modulated by the binding of INHIBITOR OF CDK/KIP-RELATED PROTEIN (ICK/KRP). Previously, ICK2/KRP2 has been shown to mediate auxin responses in lateral root initiation. Here are analysed the roles of all ICK/KRP genes in root growth. Analysis of ick/krp null-mutants revealed that only ick3/krp5 was affected in primary root growth. ICK3/KRP5 is strongly expressed in the root apical meristem (RAM), with lower expression in the expansion zone. ick3/krp5 roots grow more slowly than wildtype controls, and this results not from reduction of division in the proliferative region of the RAM but rather reduced expansion as cells exit the meristem. This leads to shorter final cell lengths in different tissues of the ick3/krp5 mutant root, particularly the epidermal non-hair cells, and this reduction in cell size correlates with reduced endoreduplication. Loss of ICK3/KRP5 also leads to delayed germination and in the mature embryo ICK3/KRP5 is specifically expressed in the transition zone between root and hypocotyl. Cells in the transition zone were smaller in the ick3/krp5 mutant, despite the absence of endoreduplication in the embryo suggesting a direct effect of ICK3/KRP5 on cell growth. It is concluded that ICK3/KRP5 is a positive regulator of both cell growth and endoreduplication.
PMCID: PMC3580825  PMID: 23440171
Arabidopsis; CDK; cell cycle; cell division; cell expansion; development; root growth
4.  Perturbation of cytokinin and ethylene-signalling pathways explain the strong rooting phenotype exhibited by Arabidopsis expressing the Schizosaccharomyces pombe mitotic inducer, cdc25 
BMC Plant Biology  2012;12:45.
Entry into mitosis is regulated by cyclin dependent kinases that in turn are phosphoregulated. In most eukaryotes, phosphoregulation is through WEE1 kinase and CDC25 phosphatase. In higher plants a homologous CDC25 gene is unconfirmed and hence the mitotic inducer Schizosaccharomyces pombe (Sp) cdc25 has been used as a tool in transgenic plants to probe cell cycle function. Expression of Spcdc25 in tobacco BY-2 cells accelerates entry into mitosis and depletes cytokinins; in whole plants it stimulates lateral root production. Here we show, for the first time, that alterations to cytokinin and ethylene signaling explain the rooting phenotype elicited by Spcdc25 expression in Arabidopsis.
Expressing Spcdc25 in Arabidopsis results in increased formation of lateral and adventitious roots, a reduction of primary root width and more isodiametric cells in the root apical meristem (RAM) compared with wild type. Furthermore it stimulates root morphogenesis from hypocotyls when cultured on two way grids of increasing auxin and cytokinin concentrations. Microarray analysis of seedling roots expressing Spcdc25 reveals that expression of 167 genes is changed by > 2-fold. As well as genes related to stress responses and defence, these include 19 genes related to transcriptional regulation and signaling. Amongst these was the up-regulation of genes associated with ethylene synthesis and signaling. Seedlings expressing Spcdc25 produced 2-fold more ethylene than WT and exhibited a significant reduction in hypocotyl length both in darkness or when exposed to 10 ppm ethylene. Furthermore in Spcdc25 expressing plants, the cytokinin receptor AHK3 was down-regulated, and endogenous levels of iPA were reduced whereas endogeous IAA concentrations in the roots increased.
We suggest that the reduction in root width and change to a more isodiametric cell phenotype in the RAM in Spcdc25 expressing plants is a response to ethylene over-production. The increased rooting phenotype in Spcdc25 expressing plants is due to an increase in the ratio of endogenous auxin to cytokinin that is known to stimulate an increased rate of lateral root production. Overall, our data reveal important cross talk between cell division and plant growth regulators leading to developmental changes.
PMCID: PMC3362767  PMID: 22452972
5.  Auxin at the Shoot Apical Meristem 
Plants continuously generate new tissues and organs through the activity of populations of undifferentiated stem cells, called meristems. Here, we discuss the so-called shoot apical meristem (SAM), which generates all the aerial parts of the plant. It has been known for many years that auxin plays a central role in the functioning of this meristem. Auxin is not homogeneously distributed at the SAM and it is thought that this distribution is interpreted in terms of differential gene expression and patterned growth. In this context, auxin transporters of the PIN and AUX families, creating auxin maxima and minima, are crucial regulators. However, auxin transport is not the only factor involved. Auxin biosynthesis genes also show specific, patterned activities, and local auxin synthesis appears to be essential for meristem function as well. In addition, auxin perception and signal transduction defining the competence of cells to react to auxin, add further complexity to the issue. To unravel this intricate signaling network at the SAM, systems biology approaches, involving not only molecular genetics but also live imaging and computational modeling, have become increasingly important.
Auxin dynamically regulates patterning at the shoot apical meristem. Transporters and local biosynthesis are involved in the control of its distribution at the shoot apex, where it is required for formation of new buds.
PMCID: PMC2845202  PMID: 20452945
6.  Determinate Root Growth and Meristem Maintenance in Angiosperms 
Annals of Botany  2007;101(3):319-340.
The difference between indeterminate and determinate growth in plants consists of the presence or absence of an active meristem in the fully developed organ. Determinate root growth implies that the root apical meristem (RAM) becomes exhausted. As a consequence, all cells in the root tip differentiate. This type of growth is widely found in roots of many angiosperm taxa and might have evolved as a developmental adaptation to water deficit (in desert Cactaceae), or low mineral content in the soil (proteoid roots in various taxa).
Scope and Conclusions
This review considers the mechanisms of determinate root growth to better understand how the RAM is maintained, how it functions, and the cellular and genetic bases of these processes. The role of the quiescent centre in RAM maintenance and exhaustion will be analysed. During root ageing, the RAM becomes smaller and its organization changes; however, it remains unknown whether every root is truly determinate in the sense that its RAM becomes exhausted before senescence. We define two types of determinate growth: constitutive where determinacy is a natural part of root development; and non-constitutive where determinacy is induced usually by an environmental factor. Determinate root growth is proposed to include two phases: the indeterminate growth phase, when the RAM continuously produces new cells; and the termination growth phase, when cell production gradually decreases and eventually ceases. Finally, new concepts regarding stem cells and a stem cell niche are discussed to help comprehend how the meristem is maintained in a broad taxonomic context.
PMCID: PMC2701811  PMID: 17954472
Angiosperms; determinate root growth; indeterminate growth; meristem maintenance; quiescent centre; root apical meristem; root development; stem cells; stem cell niche
7.  The organization of roots of dicotyledonous plants and the positions of control points 
Annals of Botany  2010;107(7):1213-1222.
The structure of roots has been studied for many years, but despite their importance to the growth and well-being of plants, most researchers tend to ignore them. This is unfortunate, because their simple body plan makes it possible to study complex developmental pathways without the complications sometimes found in the shoot. In this illustrated essay, my objective is to describe the body plan of the root and the root apical meristem (RAM) and point out the control points where differentiation and cell cycle decisions are made. Hopefully this outline will assist plant biologists in identifying the structural context for their observations.
Scope and Conclusions
This short paper outlines the types of RAM, i.e. basic-open, intermediate-open and closed, shows how they are similar and different, and makes the point that the structure and shape of the RAM are not static, but changes in shape, size and organization occur depending on root growth rate and development stage. RAMs with a closed organization lose their outer root cap layers in sheets of dead cells, while those with an open organization release living border cells from the outer surfaces of the root cap. This observation suggests a possible difference in the mechanisms whereby roots with different RAM types communicate with soil-borne micro-organisms. The root body is organized in cylinders, sectors (xylem and phloem in the vascular cylinder), cell files, packets and modules, and individual cells. The differentiation in these root development units is regulated at control points where genetic regulation is needed, and the location of these tissue-specific control points can be modulated as a function of root growth rate. In Arabidopsis thaliana the epidermis and peripheral root cap develop through a highly regulated series of steps starting with a periclinal division of an initial cell, the root cap/protoderm (RCP) initial. The derivative cells from the RCP initial divide into two cells, the inner cell divides again to renew the RCP and the other cell divides through four cycles to form 16 epidermal cells in a packet; the outer cell divides through four cycles to form the 16 cells making up the peripheral root cap packet. Together, the epidermal packet and the peripheral root cap packet make up a module of cells which are clonally related.
PMCID: PMC3091796  PMID: 21118839
Root apical meristem; RAM; cell cycle; differentiation; peripheral root cap; closed RAM organization; open RAM organization; epidermis; module; determination; levels of organization; plasmodesmata; T-division; root cap/protoderm initial; columella initial
8.  NO VEIN facilitates auxin-mediated development in Arabidopsis 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2010;5(10):1249-1251.
Local, efflux-dependent auxin gradients and maxima mediate organ and tissue development in plants. The auxin-efflux pattern is regulated by dynamic expression and asymmetric subcellular localization of PIN auxin-efflux proteins during plant organogenesis. Thus, the question of how the expression and subcellular localization of PIN proteins are controlled goes to the heart of plant development. It has been shown that PIN expression and polarity are established not only through a self-organizing auxin-mediated polarization mechanism, but also through other means such as cell-fate determination. We found that the Arabidopsis NO VEIN (NOV) gene, encoding a novel, plant-specific nuclear factor, is required for leaf vascular development, cellular patterning and stem-cell maintenance in the root meristem and cotyledon outgrowth and separation. NOV function underlies cell-fate decisions associated with auxin gradients and maxima, thereby establishing cell type-specific PIN expression and polarity. We propose that NOV mediates cell acquisition of the competence to undergo auxin-dependent coordinated cell specification and patterning, thereby educing context-dependent auxin-mediated developmental responses.
PMCID: PMC3115359  PMID: 20729639
Arabidopsis; auxin; PIN; organ development; vascular development; stem-cell maintenance; NO VEIN
9.  Auxin–Cytokinin Interaction Regulates Meristem Development 
Molecular Plant  2011;4(4):616-625.
Plant hormones regulate many aspects of plant growth and development. Both auxin and cytokinin have been known for a long time to act either synergistically or antagonistically to control several significant developmental processes, such as the formation and maintenance of meristem. Over the past few years, exciting progress has been made to reveal the molecular mechanisms underlying the auxin–cytokinin action and interaction. In this review, we shall briefly discuss the major progress made in auxin and cytokinin biosynthesis, auxin transport, and auxin and cytokinin signaling. The frameworks for the complicated interaction of these two hormones in the control of shoot apical meristem and root apical meristem formation as well as their roles in in vitro organ regeneration are the major focus of this review.
PMCID: PMC3146736  PMID: 21357646
Auxin; cytokinin; interaction; shoot meristem; root meristem; development
10.  A map of cell type-specific auxin responses 
A map of cell type-specific auxin responses
The transcriptional response to auxin was analyzed in four root cell types. The newly obtained data were cross-referenced with spatial expression maps to examine auxin's role in regulating gene expression in the root meristem.
The majority of the thousands of auxin-responsive genes in the Arabidopsis thaliana root show a spatial bias in their induction or repression by auxin treatment.Auxin promotes the expression of cell-identity markers for the developing xylem and quiescent center, whereas it inhibits markers for the maturing xylem, cortex and trichoblasts.Relative induction or repression by auxin predicts expression along the longitudinal axis of the root.
In plants, changes in local auxin concentrations can trigger a range of developmental processes as distinct tissues respond differently to the same auxin stimulus. However, little is known about how auxin is interpreted by individual cell types. We performed a transcriptomic analysis of responses to auxin within four distinct tissues of the Arabidopsis thaliana root and demonstrate that different cell types show competence for discrete responses. The majority of auxin-responsive genes displayed a spatial bias in their induction or repression. The novel data set was used to examine how auxin influences tissue-specific transcriptional regulation of cell-identity markers. Additionally, the data were used in combination with spatial expression maps of the root to plot a transcriptomic auxin-response gradient across the apical and basal meristem. The readout revealed a strong correlation for thousands of genes between the relative response to auxin and expression along the longitudinal axis of the root. This data set and comparative analysis provide a transcriptome-level spatial breakdown of the response to auxin within an organ where this hormone mediates many aspects of development.
PMCID: PMC3792342  PMID: 24022006
Arabidopsis; development; root apical meristem; signaling gradient
11.  Cyclins D, phytoregulators and cell cycle onset in germinating maize 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2008;3(8):578-579.
Several different D-type cyclins can be found in plants and in maize, four of these have been characterized: CycD2;1, CycD4;1, CycD5;1 and CycD5;2. These cyclins appear to form complexes with Cdks, with PCNA and also with KRP proteins and in these kinase activity can be measured. The expression of the corresponding genes during maize germination is highly stimulated by phytohormones like auxin and cytokinin, however this is not followed by an equivalent increase in the amount of the corresponding proteins; nonetheless, auxins do stimulate the associated kinase activity, particularly at early germination times. Thus, auxins appear to stimulate the cell cycle during germination at two levels, transcription and kinase activation. Both auxins and cytokinins appear to shorten the G1 phase during germination and stimulate DNA synthesis, but apparently they do it in different ways as the simultaneous addition of both to germinating maize axes eliminates DNA synthesis stimulation. Therefore, similar actions may be achieved by different paths.
PMCID: PMC2634502  PMID: 19704474
maize; cell cycle; germination; D cyclins; phytohormones
12.  Flux-Based Transport Enhancement as a Plausible Unifying Mechanism for Auxin Transport in Meristem Development 
PLoS Computational Biology  2008;4(10):e1000207.
Plants continuously generate new organs through the activity of populations of stem cells called meristems. The shoot apical meristem initiates leaves, flowers, and lateral meristems in highly ordered, spiralled, or whorled patterns via a process called phyllotaxis. It is commonly accepted that the active transport of the plant hormone auxin plays a major role in this process. Current hypotheses propose that cellular hormone transporters of the PIN family would create local auxin maxima at precise positions, which in turn would lead to organ initiation. To explain how auxin transporters could create hormone fluxes to distinct regions within the plant, different concepts have been proposed. A major hypothesis, canalization, proposes that the auxin transporters act by amplifying and stabilizing existing fluxes, which could be initiated, for example, by local diffusion. This convincingly explains the organised auxin fluxes during vein formation, but for the shoot apical meristem a second hypothesis was proposed, where the hormone would be systematically transported towards the areas with the highest concentrations. This implies the coexistence of two radically different mechanisms for PIN allocation in the membrane, one based on flux sensing and the other on local concentration sensing. Because these patterning processes require the interaction of hundreds of cells, it is impossible to estimate on a purely intuitive basis if a particular scenario is plausible or not. Therefore, computational modelling provides a powerful means to test this type of complex hypothesis. Here, using a dedicated computer simulation tool, we show that a flux-based polarization hypothesis is able to explain auxin transport at the shoot meristem as well, thus providing a unifying concept for the control of auxin distribution in the plant. Further experiments are now required to distinguish between flux-based polarization and other hypotheses.
Author Summary
Plants continuously generate new organs through the activity of populations of stem cells called meristems. The shoot apical meristem (SAM) initiates leaves, flowers, and lateral organs in highly ordered, spiraled, or whorled arrangements via a process called phyllotaxis. Auxin, a plant hormone, plays an essential role in this process. It is actively transported from cell to cell by specific membrane-associated transporters. In the SAM, this coordinated transport creates organized auxin fluxes resulting in hormone accumulation at precise positions, where organ formation is triggered. One key question in this process is to understand how auxin transport is coordinated. To address this issue, we have investigated a specific hypothesis, the canalization hypothesis, whereby every cell senses and attempts to stabilize existing hormone fluxes. Because such a patterning process would require the interaction of hundreds of cells, it is impossible to estimate on a purely intuitive basis whether it would be able to generate the observed organ positions. We, therefore, developed a computational approach to test this hypothesis and showed that a flux-based mechanism is indeed able to generate phyllotactic patterns and is consistent with biological data describing meristem development.
PMCID: PMC2565506  PMID: 18974825
13.  Auxin and cytokinin control formation of the quiescent centre in the adventitious root apex of arabidopsis 
Annals of Botany  2013;112(7):1395-1407.
Background and Aims
Adventitious roots (ARs) are part of the root system in numerous plants, and are required for successful micropropagation. In the Arabidopsis thaliana primary root (PR) and lateral roots (LRs), the quiescent centre (QC) in the stem cell niche of the meristem controls apical growth with the involvement of auxin and cytokinin. In arabidopsis, ARs emerge in planta from the hypocotyl pericycle, and from different tissues in in vitro cultured explants, e.g. from the stem endodermis in thin cell layer (TCL) explants. The aim of this study was to investigate the establishment and maintenance of the QC in arabidopsis ARs, in planta and in TCL explants, because information about this process is still lacking, and it has potential use for biotechnological applications.
Expression of PR/LR QC markers and auxin influx (LAX3)/efflux (PIN1) genes was investigated in the presence/absence of exogenous auxin and cytokinin. Auxin was monitored by the DR5::GUS system and cytokinin by immunolocalization. The expression of the auxin-biosynthetic YUCCA6 gene was also investigated by in situ hybridization in planta and in AR-forming TCLs from the indole acetic acid (IAA)-overproducing superroot2-1 mutant and its wild type.
Key Results
The accumulation of auxin and the expression of the QC marker WOX5 characterized the early derivatives of the AR founder cells, in planta and in in vitro cultured TCLs. By determination of PIN1 auxin efflux carrier and LAX3 auxin influx carrier activities, an auxin maximum was determined to occur at the AR tip, to which WOX5 expression was restricted, establishing the positioning of the QC. Cytokinin caused a restriction of LAX3 and PIN1 expression domains, and concomitantly the auxin biosynthesis YUCCA6 gene was expressed in the apex.
In ARs formed in planta and TCLs, the QC is established in a similar way, and auxin transport and biosynthesis are involved through cytokinin tuning.
PMCID: PMC3806543  PMID: 24061489
Adventitious root apex; Arabidopsis thaliana; auxin biosynthesis; auxin transport; cytokinin localization; quiescent centre; root meristemoids; stem endodermis; thin cell layers; WOX5
14.  Auxin and cytokinin regulate each other's levels via a metabolic feedback loop 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2011;6(6):901-904.
The hormones auxin and cytokinin are key regulators of plant growth and development. As they are active at minute concentrations and regulate dynamic processes, cell and tissue levels of the hormones are finely controlled developmentally, diurnally, and in response to environmental variables. This fine control, along with a regulation of the capacity to respond ensures that the appropriate type, duration and intensity of responses are elicited. We have recently discovered that cytokinin and auxin regulate the synthesis of each other, demonstrating a mechanism for mutual feed back and feed forward control of auxin and cytokinin levels. This regulatory loop could be important for many developmental processes in plants, i.e., in fine-tuning plant hormone levels in the developing meristems of the root and shoot apex. These findings could also give a molecular explanation for earlier observations of auxin and cytokinin effects on cell cultures,1 where specific auxin and cytokinin ratios have been used to trigger different morphological events.
PMCID: PMC3218501  PMID: 21543904
auxin; cytokinin; biosynthesis; metabolism; signaling; root development; interactions
15.  The Production and Release of Living Root Cap Border Cells is a Function of Root Apical Meristem Type in Dicotyledonous Angiosperm Plants 
Annals of Botany  2006;97(5):917-923.
• Background and Aims The root apical meristems (RAM) of flowering plant roots are organized into recognizable pattern types. At present, there are no known ecological or physiological benefits to having one RAM organization type over another. Although there are phylogenetic distribution patterns in plant groups, the possible evolutionary advantages of different RAM organization patterns are not understood. Root caps of many flowering plant roots are known to release living border cells into the rhizosphere, where the cells are believed to have the capacity to alter conditions in the soil and to interact with soil micro-organisms. Consequently, high rates of border cell production may have the potential to benefit plant growth and development greatly, and to provide a selective advantage in certain soil environments. This study reports the use of several approaches to elucidate the anatomical and developmental relationships between RAM organization and border cell production.
• Methods RAM types from many species were compared with numbers of border cells released in those species. In addition, other species were grown, fixed and sectioned to verify their organization type and capacity to produce border cells. Root tips were examined microscopically to characterize their pattern and some were stained to determine the viability of root cap cells.
• Key Results The first report of a correlation between RAM organization type and the production and release of border cells is provided: species exhibiting open RAM organization produce significantly more border cells than species exhibiting closed apical organization. Roots with closed apical organization release peripheral root cap cells in sheets or large groups of dead cells, whereas root caps with open organization release individual living border cells.
• Conclusions This study, the first to document a relationship between RAM organization, root cap behaviour and a possible ecological benefit to the plant, may yield a framework to examine the evolutionary causes for the diversification of RAM organization types across taxa.
PMCID: PMC2803423  PMID: 16488922
Border cells; root caps; root apical organization; root meristem
16.  The AUXIN BINDING PROTEIN 1 Is Required for Differential Auxin Responses Mediating Root Growth 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(9):e6648.
In plants, the phytohormone auxin is a crucial regulator sustaining growth and development. At the cellular level, auxin is interpreted differentially in a tissue- and dose-dependent manner. Mechanisms of auxin signalling are partially unknown and the contribution of the AUXIN BINDING PROTEIN 1 (ABP1) as an auxin receptor is still a matter of debate.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Here we took advantage of the present knowledge of the root biological system to demonstrate that ABP1 is required for auxin response. The use of conditional ABP1 defective plants reveals that the protein is essential for maintenance of the root meristem and acts at least on the D-type CYCLIN/RETINOBLASTOMA pathway to control entry into the cell cycle. ABP1 affects PLETHORA gradients and confers auxin sensitivity to root cells thus defining the competence of the cells to be maintained within the meristem or to elongate. ABP1 is also implicated in the regulation of gene expression in response to auxin.
Our data support that ABP1 is a key regulator for root growth and is required for auxin-mediated responses. Differential effects of ABP1 on various auxin responses support a model in which ABP1 is the major regulator for auxin action on the cell cycle and regulates auxin-mediated gene expression and cell elongation in addition to the already well known TIR1-mediated ubiquitination pathway.
PMCID: PMC2744284  PMID: 19777056
17.  Strigolactone Can Promote or Inhibit Shoot Branching by Triggering Rapid Depletion of the Auxin Efflux Protein PIN1 from the Plasma Membrane 
PLoS Biology  2013;11(1):e1001474.
Shoot branching is regulated by competition between branches to export the phytohormone auxin into the main stem. The phytohormone strigolactone balances shoot system growth by making auxin export harder to establish, thus modulating the auxin transport network.
Plants continuously extend their root and shoot systems through the action of meristems at their growing tips. By regulating which meristems are active, plants adjust their body plans to suit local environmental conditions. The transport network of the phytohormone auxin has been proposed to mediate this systemic growth coordination, due to its self-organising, environmentally sensitive properties. In particular, a positive feedback mechanism termed auxin transport canalization, which establishes auxin flow from active shoot meristems (auxin sources) to the roots (auxin sinks), has been proposed to mediate competition between shoot meristems and to balance shoot and root growth. Here we provide strong support for this hypothesis by demonstrating that a second hormone, strigolactone, regulates growth redistribution in the shoot by rapidly modulating auxin transport. A computational model in which strigolactone action is represented as an increase in the rate of removal of the auxin export protein, PIN1, from the plasma membrane can reproduce both the auxin transport and shoot branching phenotypes observed in various mutant combinations and strigolactone treatments, including the counterintuitive ability of strigolactones either to promote or inhibit shoot branching, depending on the auxin transport status of the plant. Consistent with this predicted mode of action, strigolactone signalling was found to trigger PIN1 depletion from the plasma membrane of xylem parenchyma cells in the stem. This effect could be detected within 10 minutes of strigolactone treatment and was independent of protein synthesis but dependent on clathrin-mediated membrane trafficking. Together these results support the hypothesis that growth across the plant shoot system is balanced by competition between shoot apices for a common auxin transport path to the root and that strigolactones regulate shoot branching by modulating this competition.
Author Summary
Plants can adapt their form to suit the environment in which they are growing. For example, genetically identical plants can develop as a single unbranched stem or as a highly ramified bush. This broad developmental potential is possible because the shoot system is produced continuously by growing tips, known as shoot meristems. Meristems produce the stem and leaves of a shoot, and at the base of each leaf, a new meristem is formed. This meristem can remain dormant as a small bud or activate to produce a branch. Thus, the shoot system is a community of shoot meristems, the combined activity and inactivity of which shape shoot form. Here we provide evidence that growth is balanced across the Arabidopsis shoot system by competition between the shoot meristems. This competition is likely mediated by the requirement of meristems to export the plant hormone auxin in order to activate bud outgrowth. In our model, auxin in the main stem, exported from active branches, can prevent auxin export by dormant buds, thus preventing their activation. Our findings show that a second hormone, strigolactone, increases the level of competition between branches by making auxin export harder to establish. Together, these hormones balance growth across the shoot system, adjusting it according to the environmental conditions in which a plant is growing.
PMCID: PMC3558495  PMID: 23382651
18.  DAR2 acts as an important node connecting cytokinin, auxin, SHY2 and PLT1/2 in root meristem size control 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2013;8(6):e24226.
Cytokinin and auxin antagonistically affect cell proliferation and differentiation and thus regulate root meristem size by influencing the abundance of SHORT HYPOCOTYL2 (SHY2/IAA3). SHY2 affects auxin distribution in the root meristem by repressing the auxin-inducible expression of PIN-FORMED (PIN) auxin transport genes. The PLETHORA (PLT1/2) genes influence root meristem growth by promoting stem cells and transit-amplifying cells. However, the factors connecting cytokinin, auxin, SHY2 and PLT1/2 are largely unknown. In a recent study, we have shown that the DA1-related protein 2 (DAR2) acts downstream of cytokinin and SHY2 but upstream of PLT1/2 to affect root meristem size. Here, we discuss the possible molecular mechanisms by which Arabidopsis DAR2 controls root meristem size.
PMCID: PMC3907457  PMID: 23518585
DAR2; root meristem size; stem cell niche activity; auxin; cytokinin
19.  Mutations in the Arabidopsis RPK1 gene uncouple cotyledon anlagen and primordia by modulating epidermal cell shape and polarity 
Biology Open  2013;2(11):1093-1102.
Plant seedlings have either one or two cotyledons. The mechanisms that regulate this organ number are poorly understood. Mutations in the RECEPTOR-LIKE PROTEIN KINASE1 (RPK1) gene of the dicot Arabidopsis have only one cotyledon, with low penetrance due to complex genetic redundancy. An analysis of patterning genes required for cotyledon initiation showed that these have normal expression patterns, defining the cotyledon anlagen, in rpk1. This was also true for key genes, which organize the shoot apical meristem (SAM). By contrast, epidermal cell shape and polarity were compromised in rpk1 embryos, as evidenced by disturbed polarity of the auxin efflux carrier PIN1. PIN1 is required for the establishment of auxin maxima, which induce and maintain organ primordia. The effects in rpk1 mutants manifest in a spatially and timely stochastic fashion probably due to redundancy of RPK1-like functions. Consistently, auxin maxima showed a stochastic distribution in rpk1 embryos, being at times entirely absent and at other times supernumerary. This variability may explain how monocotyledonous seedlings and cotyledon shape variants can developmentally arise in Arabidopsis and possibly in other plants.
PMCID: PMC3828755  PMID: 24244845
Angiosperm evolution; Arabidopsis; Cotyledon; Embryo development; RPK1
20.  A Division in PIN-Mediated Auxin Patterning during Organ Initiation in Grasses 
PLoS Computational Biology  2014;10(1):e1003447.
The hormone auxin plays a crucial role in plant morphogenesis. In the shoot apical meristem, the PIN-FORMED1 (PIN1) efflux carrier concentrates auxin into local maxima in the epidermis, which position incipient leaf or floral primordia. From these maxima, PIN1 transports auxin into internal tissues along emergent paths that pattern leaf and stem vasculature. In Arabidopsis thaliana, these functions are attributed to a single PIN1 protein. Using phylogenetic and gene synteny analysis we identified an angiosperm PIN clade sister to PIN1, here termed Sister-of-PIN1 (SoPIN1), which is present in all sampled angiosperms except for Brassicaceae, including Arabidopsis. Additionally, we identified a conserved duplication of PIN1 in the grasses: PIN1a and PIN1b. In Brachypodium distachyon, SoPIN1 is highly expressed in the epidermis and is consistently polarized toward regions of high expression of the DR5 auxin-signaling reporter, which suggests that SoPIN1 functions in the localization of new primordia. In contrast, PIN1a and PIN1b are highly expressed in internal tissues, suggesting a role in vascular patterning. PIN1b is expressed in broad regions spanning the space between new primordia and previously formed vasculature, suggesting a role in connecting new organs to auxin sinks in the older tissues. Within these regions, PIN1a forms narrow canals that likely pattern future veins. Using a computer model, we reproduced the observed spatio-temporal expression and localization patterns of these proteins by assuming that SoPIN1 is polarized up the auxin gradient, and PIN1a and PIN1b are polarized to different degrees with the auxin flux. Our results suggest that examination and modeling of PIN dynamics in plants outside of Brassicaceae will offer insights into auxin-driven patterning obscured by the loss of the SoPIN1 clade in Brassicaceae.
Author Summary
Computational models and functional studies using the plant Arabidopsis thaliana have led to competing models for how the PIN-FORMED1 (PIN1) auxin transporter polarizes in the cell to create both the maxima required for organ initiation and the narrow streams required for vein patterning. Here we identify a previously uncharacterized PIN protein most closely related to PIN1 that is present in all flowering plants but lost in the Brassicaceae, including Arabidopsis. We localized this protein, here termed Sister-of-PIN1 (SoPIN1), along with duplicate members of PIN1 (PIN1a and PIN1b), in two grass species. Our localization data provide striking evidence for a spatial and temporal split between SoPIN1 and the two PIN1s during organ initiation in grasses. Based on our localization results we created a computational model showing that the observed patterns of expression and polarization of the grass PINs can emerge assuming SoPIN1 polarizes up the gradient of auxin concentration while the PIN1 members polarize with the auxin flux. This model reveals a minimal framework of necessary functions involved in auxin-transport-mediated patterning in the shoot and demonstrates that work outside of Arabidopsis is essential to understanding how auxin-transport mediates patterning in most flowering plants.
PMCID: PMC3907294  PMID: 24499933
21.  Auxin, cytokinin and the control of shoot branching 
Annals of Botany  2011;107(7):1203-1212.
It has been known for many decades that auxin inhibits the activation of axillary buds, and hence shoot branching, while cytokinin has the opposite effect. However, the modes of action of these two hormones in branching control is still a matter of debate, and their mechanisms of interaction are equally unresolved.
Here we review the evidence for various hypotheses that have been put forward to explain how auxin and cytokinin influence axillary bud activity. In particular we discuss the roles of auxin and cytokinin in regulating each other's synthesis, the cell cycle, meristem function and auxin transport, each of which could affect branching. These different mechanisms have implications for the main site of hormone action, ranging from systemic action throughout the plant, to local action at the node or in the bud meristem or leaves. The alternative models have specific predictions, and our increasing understanding of the molecular basis for hormone transport and signalling, cell cycle control and meristem biology is providing new tools to enable these predictions to be tested.
PMCID: PMC3091808  PMID: 21504914
Shoot branching; axillary bud; dormancy; auxin; cytokinin; canalization; polar auxin transport stream; cell cycle
22.  Systemic Control of Cell Division and Endoreduplication by NAA and BAP by Modulating CDKs in Root Tip Cells of Allium cepa 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:453707.
Molecular mechanism regulated by auxin and cytokinin during endoreduplication, cell division, and elongation process is studied by using Allium cepa roots as a model system. The activity of CDK genes modulated by auxin and cytokinin during cell division, elongation, and endoreduplication process is explained in this research work. To study the significance of auxin and cytokinin in the management of cell division and endoreduplication process in plant meristematic cells at molecular level endoreduplication was developed in root tips of Allium cepa by giving colchicine treatment. There were inhibition of vegetative growth, formation of c-tumor at root tip, and development of endoreduplicated cells after colchicine treatment. This c-tumor was further treated with NAA and BAP to reinitiate vegetative growth in roots. BAP gave positive response in reinitiation of vegetative growth of roots from center of c-tumor. However, NAA gave negative response in reinitiation of vegetative growth of roots from c-tumor. Further, CDKs gene expression analysis from normal, endoreduplicated, and phytohormone (NAA or BAP) treated root tip was done and remarkable changes in transcription level of CDK genes in normal, endoreduplicated, and phytohormones treated cells were observed.
PMCID: PMC4052472  PMID: 24955358
23.  Kip-Related Protein 3 Is Required for Control of Endoreduplication in the Shoot Apical Meristem and Leaves of Arabidopsis 
Molecules and Cells  2012;35(1):47-53.
The cell cycle plays an important role in the development and adaptation of multicellular organisms; specifically, it allows them to optimally adjust their architecture in response to environmental changes. Kip-related proteins (KRPs) are important negative regulators of cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs), which positively control the cell cycle during plant development. The Arabidopsis genome possesses seven KRP genes with low sequence similarity and distinct expression patterns; however, why Arabidopsis needs seven KRP genes and how these genes function in cell cycle regulation are unknown. Here, we focused on the characterization of KRP3, which was found to have unique functions in the shoot apical meristem (SAM) and leaves. KRP3 protein was localized to the SAM, including the ground meristem and vascular tissues in the ground part of the SAM and cotyledons. In addition, KRP3 protein was stabilized when treated with MG132, an inhibitor of the 26S proteasome, indicating that the protein may be regulated by 26S proteasome-mediated protein degradation. KRP3-overexpressing (KRP3 OE) transgenic plants showed reduced organ size, serrated leaves, and reduced fertility. Interestingly, the KRP3 OE transgenic plants showed a significant reduction in the size of the SAM with alterations in cell arrangement. In addition, compared to the wild type, the KRP3 OE transgenic plants had a higher DNA ploidy level in the SAM and leaves. Taken together, our data suggest that KRP3 plays important regulatory roles in the cell cycle and endoreduplication in the SAM and leaves.
PMCID: PMC3887850  PMID: 23314608
Arabidopsis; endoreduplication; KRP3; leaf development; shoot apical meristem
24.  The maize root stem cell niche: a partnership between two sister cell populations 
Planta  2009;231(2):411-424.
Using transcript profile analysis, we explored the nature of the stem cell niche in roots of maize (Zea mays). Toward assessing a role for specific genes in the establishment and maintenance of the niche, we perturbed the niche and simultaneously monitored the spatial expression patterns of genes hypothesized as essential. Our results allow us to quantify and localize gene activities to specific portions of the niche: to the quiescent center (QC) or the proximal meristem (PM), or to both. The data point to molecular, biochemical and physiological processes associated with the specification and maintenance of the niche, and include reduced expression of metabolism-, redox- and certain cell cycle-associated transcripts in the QC, enrichment of auxin-associated transcripts within the entire niche, controls for the state of differentiation of QC cells, a role for cytokinins specifically in the PM portion of the niche, processes (repair machinery) for maintaining DNA integrity and a role for gene silencing in niche stabilization. To provide additional support for the hypothesized roles of the above-mentioned and other transcripts in niche specification, we overexpressed, in Arabidopsis, homologs of representative genes (eight) identified as highly enriched or reduced in the maize root QC. We conclude that the coordinated changes in expression of auxin-, redox-, cell cycle- and metabolism-associated genes suggest the linkage of gene networks at the level of transcription, thereby providing additional insights into events likely associated with root stem cell niche establishment and maintenance.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00425-009-1059-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC2799627  PMID: 20041334
Quiescent center; Root; Stem cell; Stem cell niche; Zea mays
25.  Determinate primary root growth as an adaptation to aridity in Cactaceae: towards an understanding of the evolution and genetic control of the trait 
Annals of Botany  2013;112(2):239-252.
Background and Aims
Species of Cactaceae are well adapted to arid habitats. Determinate growth of the primary root, which involves early and complete root apical meristem (RAM) exhaustion and differentiation of cells at the root tip, has been reported for some Cactoideae species as a root adaptation to aridity. In this study, the primary root growth patterns of Cactaceae taxa from diverse habitats are classified as being determinate or indeterminate, and the molecular mechanisms underlying RAM maintenance in Cactaceae are explored. Genes that were induced in the primary root of Stenocereus gummosus before RAM exhaustion are identified.
Primary root growth was analysed in Cactaceae seedlings cultivated in vertically oriented Petri dishes. Differentially expressed transcripts were identified after reverse northern blots of clones from a suppression subtractive hybridization cDNA library.
Key Results
All species analysed from six tribes of the Cactoideae subfamily that inhabit arid and semi-arid regions exhibited determinate primary root growth. However, species from the Hylocereeae tribe, which inhabit mesic regions, exhibited mostly indeterminate primary root growth. Preliminary results suggest that seedlings of members of the Opuntioideae subfamily have mostly determinate primary root growth, whereas those of the Maihuenioideae and Pereskioideae subfamilies have mostly indeterminate primary root growth. Seven selected transcripts encoding homologues of heat stress transcription factor B4, histone deacetylase, fibrillarin, phosphoethanolamine methyltransferase, cytochrome P450 and gibberellin-regulated protein were upregulated in S. gummosus root tips during the initial growth phase.
Primary root growth in Cactoideae species matches their environment. The data imply that determinate growth of the primary root became fixed after separation of the Cactiodeae/Opuntioideae and Maihuenioideae/Pereskioideae lineages, and that the genetic regulation of RAM maintenance and its loss in Cactaceae is orchestrated by genes involved in the regulation of gene expression, signalling, and redox and hormonal responses.
PMCID: PMC3698391  PMID: 23666887
Root development; determinate growth of primary root; Cactaceae; Cactoideae; Opuntioideae; Maihuenioideae; Pereskioideae; adaptation to aridity; differential gene expression

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