A Plausible Microtubule-Based Mechanism for Cell Division Orientation in Plant Embryogenesis

Bandan Chakrabortty, Viola Willemsen, Thijs de Zeeuw, Che Yang Liao, Dolf Weijers, Bela Mulder*, Ben Scheres

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Oriented cell divisions are significant in plant morphogenesis because plant cells are embedded in cell walls and cannot relocate. Cell divisions follow various regular orientations, but the underlying mechanisms have not been clarified. We propose that cell-shape-dependent self-organization of cortical microtubule arrays is able to provide a mechanism for determining planes of early tissue-generating divisions and may form the basis for robust control of cell division orientation in the embryo. To show this, we simulate microtubules on actual cell surface shapes, from which we derive a minimal set of three rules for proper array orientation. The first rule captures the effects of cell shape alone on microtubule organization, the second rule describes the regulation of microtubule stability at cell edges, and the third rule includes the differential effect of auxin on local microtubule stability. These rules generate early embryonic division plane orientations and potentially offer a framework for understanding patterned cell divisions in plant morphogenesis. Chakrabortty et al. show that a computational model for dynamic self-organization of cortical microtubules on experimentally extracted cell shapes provides a plausible molecular mechanism for division plane orientation in the first four divisions of early stage A. thaliana embryos, in WT as well as two developmental mutants bodenlos and clasp.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3031-3043.e2
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 8 Oct 2018


  • arabidopsis
  • auxin
  • cell shape
  • computational modeling
  • cytokinesis
  • division orientation
  • embryogenesis
  • microtubules
  • systems biology


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