Genetic control of plant development by overriding a geometric division rule

Saiko Yoshida1, Pierre Barbier de Reuille2, Brendan Lane3, George W. Bassel4, Przemyslaw Prusinkiewicz3, Richard S. Smith2, Dolf Weijers1
1 Wageningen University
2 University of Bern
3 University of Calgary
4 University of Birmingham


Formative cell divisions are critical for multicellular patterning. In the early plant embryo, such divisions follow from orienting the division plane. A major unanswered question is how division plane orientation is genetically controlled, and in particular whether this relates to cell geometry. We have generated a complete 4D map of early Arabidopsis embryogenesis and used computational analysis to demonstrate that several divisions follow a rule that uses the smallest wall area going through the center of the cell. In other cases, however, cell division clearly deviates from this rule, which invariably leads to asymmetric cell division. By analyzing mutant embryos and through targeted genetic perturbation, we show that response to the hormone auxin triggers a deviation from the "shortest wall" rule. Our work demonstrates that a simple default rule couples division orientation to cell geometry in the embryo and that genetic regulation can create patterns by overriding the default rule.


Saiko Yoshida, Pierre Barbier de Reuille, Brendan Lane, George W. Bassel, Przemyslaw Prusinkiewicz, Richard S. Smith, and Dolf Weijers. Genetic control of plant development by overriding a geometric division rule. Developmental Cell 29(1), p75-87, April 2014.

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