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Morphogenesis of the Arabidopsis Shoot Apical Meristem


Tobin, Cory James (2016) Morphogenesis of the Arabidopsis Shoot Apical Meristem. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/Z9NK3C0N.


Phyllotaxis patterns in plants, or the arrangement of leaves and flowers radially around the shoot, have fascinated both biologists and mathematicians for centuries. The current model of this process involves the lateral transport of the hormone auxin through the first layer of cells in the shoot apical meristem via the auxin efflux carrier protein PIN1. Locations around the meristem with high auxin concentration are sites of organ formation and differentiation. Many of the molecular players in this process are well known and characterized. Computer models composed of all these components are able to produce many of the observed phyllotaxis patterns. To understand which parts of this model have a large effect on the phenotype I automated parameter testing and tried many different parameter combinations. Results of this showed that cell size and meristem size should have the largest effect on phyllotaxis. This lead to three questions: (1) How is cell geometry regulated? (2) Does cell size affect auxin distribution? (3) Does meristem size affect phyllotaxis? To answer the first question I tracked cell divisions in live meristems and quantified the geometry of the cells and the division planes using advanced image processing techniques. The results show that cell shape is maintained by minimizing the length of the new wall and by minimizing the difference in area of the daughter cells. To answer the second question I observed auxin patterning in the meristem, shoot, leaves, and roots of Arabidopsis mutants with larger and smaller cell sizes. In the meristem and shoot, cell size plays an important role in determining the distribution of auxin. Observations of auxin in the root and leaves are less definitive. To answer the third question I measured meristem sizes and phyllotaxis patterns in mutants with altered meristem sizes. These results show that there is no correlation between meristem size and average divergence angle. But in an extreme case, making the meristem very small does lead to a switch on observed phyllotaxis in accordance with the model.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Arabidopsis; Development; Morphogenesis
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Biology and Biological Engineering
Major Option:Biology
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Meyerowitz, Elliot M.
Thesis Committee:
  • Wold, Barbara J. (chair)
  • Meyerowitz, Elliot M.
  • Stathopoulos, Angelike
  • Sternberg, Paul W.
Defense Date:30 November 2015
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:05162016-155222105
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:9722
Deposited By: Cory Tobin
Deposited On:06 Jun 2016 20:26
Last Modified:04 Oct 2019 00:13

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