The cytoskeleton and spatial control of cytokinesis in the plant life cycle

Protoplasma. 2001;215(1-4):35-49. doi: 10.1007/BF01280302.


One of the intriguing aspects of development in plants is the precise control of division plane and subsequent placement of walls resulting in the specific architecture of tissues and organs. The placement of walls can be directed by either of two microtubule cycles. The better known microtubule cycle is associated with control of the future division plane in meristematic growth where new cells become part of tissues. The future daughter domains are determined before the nucleus enters prophase and the future site of cytokinesis is marked by a preprophase band (PPB) of cortical microtubules. The spindle axis is then organized in accordance with the PPB and, following chromosome movement, a phragmoplast is initiated in the interzone and expands to join with parental walls at the site previously occupied by the PPB. The alternative microtubule cycle lacks both the hooplike cortical microtubules of interphase and the PPB. Wall placement is determined by a radial microtubule system that defines a domain of cytoplasm either containing a nucleus or destined to contain a nucleus (the nuclear cytoplasmic domain) and controls wall placement at its perimeter. This more flexible system allows for cytoplasmic polarization and migration of nuclei in coenocytes prior to cellularization. The uncoupling of cytokinesis from karyokinesis is a regular feature of the reproductive phase in plants and results in specific, often unusual, patterns of cells which reflect the position of nuclei at the time of cellularization (e.g., the arrangement of spores in a tetrad, cells of the male and female gametophytes of angiosperms, and the distinctive cellularization of endosperm). Thus, both microtubule cycles are required for completion of plant life cycles from bryophytes to angiosperms. In angiosperm seed development, the two methods of determining the boundaries of domains where walls will be deposited are operative side by side. Whereas the PPB cycle drives embryo development, the radial-microtubule-system cycle drives the common nuclear type of endosperm development from the syncytial stage through cellularization. However, a switch to the PPB cycle can occur in endosperm, as it does in barley, when peripheral cells divide to produce a multilayered aleurone. The triggers for the switch between microtubule cycles, which are currently unknown, are key to understanding plant development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / growth & development*
  • Arabidopsis / physiology
  • Arabidopsis / ultrastructure*
  • Cell Division*
  • Cytoskeleton / physiology*
  • Cytoskeleton / ultrastructure
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Meristem / physiology
  • Meristem / ultrastructure
  • Microtubules / physiology
  • Microtubules / ultrastructure
  • Mitosis