Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/8/2001
Publication Date: 1/15/2002
Citation: FLETCHER, J.C. Meristematic Tissues in Plant Growth and Development. McManus, M.T., Veit, B.E., editors. Sheffield Academic Press, Sheffield, UK. The Vegetative Meristem. Chapter 2. 2002. p. 16-57.
Interpretive Summary: This book chapter provides a comprehensive summary of our current understanding of how cells found at the growing shoot tip of higher plants are organized into a dynamic structure called a shoot meristem. The chapter introduces the concept of the shoot meristem as a site of stem cell division and also organ formation. It also provides an in-depth discussion of four important topics in meristem biology: (1) how the meristem is organized, (2) how meristem cells are maintained throughout the vegetative growth phase, (3) how new organs such as leaves are formed from the flanks of the meristem, and (4) how the anatomy of the meristem is correlated with domains of gene expression.
Technical Abstract: The vegetative shoot apical meristem is a highly organized yet dynamic structure. It is responsible for maintaining the proliferation of a population of undifferentiated stem cells through-out vegetative development, as well as for initiating lateral organs in stereotypical patterns. The vegetative shoot apex must maintain a continuous balance between the production of stem cells and the incorporation of their derivatives into organ primordia, as either excess accumulation of meristem cells or excess loss of meristem cells has severe morphological consequences for the plant. This chapter will review our current understanding of four major aspects of vegetative meristem function: how the meristem is organized, how the meristematic state is maintained throughout vegetative development, how patterned organogenesis is initiated, and how the cytological and anatomical domains of the vegetative meristem correspond to functional domains.