Submitted to: Trends in Plant Science
Publication Type: Review article
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/17/2003
Publication Date: 3/17/2003
Citation: Carles, C.C., Fletcher, J.C. 2003. Shoot apical meristem maintenance: the art of a dynamic balance. Trends in Plant Science 8:394-401. Interpretive Summary: This article reviews recent advances in the field of shoot and floral meristem biology. We emphasize the genetic and molecular mechanisms that control the activities of actively dividing shoot meristem cells that produce the leaf and flower architecture of the plant. Using Arabidopsis as a model, we discuss the organization of the shoot meristem, the genetic pathways that allow cells in the meristem to communicate with one another during development, and the genes that turn off meristem activity during flower formation.
Technical Abstract: The aerial structure of higher plants derives from cells at the tip of the stem, in the shoot apical meristem (SAM). Throughout the life of a plant, the SAM produces stem tissues and lateral organs, and also regenerates itself. For correct growth, the plant must maintain a constant flow of cells through the meristem, where the input of dividing pluripotent stem cells offsets the output of differentiating cells. This flow depends on extracellular signaling with the SAM, governed by a spatial regulatory feedback loop that maintains a reservoir of stem cells, and on factors that prevent the meristem cells from differentiating prematurely. The terminating floral meristem incorporates the spatial regulation scheme into a temporal regulation pathway involving flower patterning factors.