Mathematical modeling of plant cell fate transitions controlled by hormonal signals

PLoS Comput Biol. 2020 Jul 20;16(7):e1007523. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1007523. eCollection 2020 Jul.


Coordination of fate transition and cell division is crucial to maintain the plant architecture and to achieve efficient production of plant organs. In this paper, we analysed the stem cell dynamics at the shoot apical meristem (SAM) that is one of the plant stem cells locations. We designed a mathematical model to elucidate the impact of hormonal signaling on the fate transition rates between different zones corresponding to slowly dividing stem cells and fast dividing transit amplifying cells. The model is based on a simplified two-dimensional disc geometry of the SAM and accounts for a continuous displacement towards the periphery of cells produced in the central zone. Coupling growth and hormonal signaling results in a nonlinear system of reaction-diffusion equations on a growing domain with the growth rate depending on the model components. The model is tested by simulating perturbations in the level of key transcription factors that maintain SAM homeostasis. The model provides new insights on how the transcription factor HECATE is integrated in the regulatory network that governs stem cell differentiation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Differentiation / physiology*
  • Computational Biology
  • Computer Simulation
  • Meristem / cytology
  • Meristem / growth & development
  • Meristem / metabolism
  • Meristem / physiology
  • Models, Biological*
  • Plant Cells* / metabolism
  • Plant Cells* / physiology
  • Plant Growth Regulators / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Plant Growth Regulators

Grant support

This work was supported by research funding from the German Research Foundation DFG (Collaborative Research Center SFB 873, Maintenance and Differentiation of Stem Cells in Development and Disease). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.