Taking the very first steps: from polarity to axial domains in the early Arabidopsis embryo

J Exp Bot. 2011 Mar;62(5):1687-97. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erq398. Epub 2010 Dec 20.


Arabidopsis embryos follow a predictable sequence of cell divisions, facilitating a genetic analysis of their early development. Both asymmetric divisions and cell-to-cell communication are probably involved in generating specific gene expression domains along the main axis within the first few division cycles. The function of these domains is not always understood, but recent work suggests that they may serve as a basis for organizing polar auxin flux. Auxin acts as systemic signal throughout the life cycle and, in the embryo, has been demonstrated to direct formation of the main axis and root initiation at the globular stage. At about the same time, root versus shoot fates are imposed on the incipient meristems by the expression of antagonistic regulators at opposite poles of the embryo. Some of the key features of the embryonic patterning process have emerged over the past few years and may provide the elements of a coherent conceptual framework.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / embryology*
  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / physiology*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism
  • Body Patterning
  • Cell Communication
  • Cell Division
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant*
  • Indoleacetic Acids / metabolism*
  • Meristem / embryology
  • Meristem / genetics
  • Meristem / physiology
  • Plant Roots / embryology
  • Plant Roots / genetics
  • Plant Roots / physiology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Indoleacetic Acids