Plants, along with other multicellular organisms, have evolved specialized regulatory mechanisms to achieve proper tissue growth and morphogenesis. During development, growing tissues generate specialized cell types and complex patterns necessary for establishing the function of the organ. Tissue growth is a tightly regulated process that yields highly reproducible outcomes. Nevertheless, the underlying cellular and molecular behaviors are often stochastic. Thus, how does stochasticity, together with strict genetic regulation, give rise to reproducible tissue development? This review draws examples from plants as well as other systems to explore stochasticity in plant cell division, growth, and patterning. We conclude that stochasticity is often needed to create small differences between identical cells, which are amplified and stabilized by genetic and mechanical feedback loops to begin cell differentiation. These first few differentiating cells initiate traditional patterning mechanisms to ensure regular development.
Keywords: Arabidopsis; cell division; development; robustness; variability.