Cytokinins determine Arabidopsis root-meristem size by controlling cell differentiation

Curr Biol. 2007 Apr 17;17(8):678-82. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2007.02.047. Epub 2007 Mar 15.


Plant postembryonic development takes place in the meristems, where stem cells self-renew and produce daughter cells that differentiate and give rise to different organ structures. For the maintenance of meristems, the rate of differentiation of daughter cells must equal the generation of new cells: How this is achieved is a central question in plant development. In the Arabidopsis root meristem, stem cells surround a small group of organizing cells, the quiescent center. Together they form a stem cell niche [1, 2], whose position and activity depends on the combinatorial action of two sets of genes - PLETHORA1 (PLT1) and PLETHORA2 (PLT2)[3, 4] and SCARECROW (SCR) and SHORTROOT (SHR)[2] - as well as on polar auxin transport. In contrast, the mechanisms controlling meristematic cell differentiation remain unclear. Here, we report that cytokinins control the rate of meristematic cell differentiation and thus determine root-meristem size via a two-component receptor histidine kinase-transcription factor signaling pathway. Analysis of the root meristems of cytokinin mutants, spatial cytokinin depletion, and exogenous cytokinin application indicates that cytokinins act in a restricted region of the root meristem, where they antagonize a non-cell-autonomous cell-division signal, and we provide evidence that this signal is auxin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / cytology*
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Cytokinins / metabolism*
  • Meristem / cytology*
  • Plant Roots / cytology*
  • Plant Roots / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction


  • Cytokinins