In nearly all flowering plants, the basic body plan is laid down during embryogenesis. In Arabidopsis, the crucial cell types are established extremely early as reflected in the stereotypic sequence of oriented cell divisions in the developing young embryo. Research into early embryogenesis was especially focused on the role of the infamous tryptophan derivative auxin in establishing embryo polarity and generating the main body axis. However, it is becoming obvious that the mere link to auxin does not provide any mechanistic understanding of early embryo patterning. Taking recent research into account, we discuss mechanisms underlying early embryonic patterning from an evolutionary perspective.
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