Auxin-dependent control of cytoskeleton and cell shape regulates division orientation in the Arabidopsis embryo

Prasad Vaddepalli*, Thijs de Zeeuw, Sören Strauss, Katharina Bürstenbinder, Che Yang Liao, João Jacob Ramalho, Richard S. Smith, Dolf Weijers*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Premitotic control of cell division orientation is critical for plant development, as cell walls prevent extensive cell remodeling or migration. While many divisions are proliferative and add cells to existing tissues, some divisions are formative and generate new tissue layers or growth axes. Such formative divisions are often asymmetric in nature, producing daughters with different fates. We have previously shown that, in the Arabidopsis thaliana embryo, developmental asymmetry is correlated with geometric asymmetry, creating daughter cells of unequal volume. Such divisions are generated by division planes that deviate from a default “minimal surface area” rule. Inhibition of auxin response leads to reversal to this default, yet the mechanisms underlying division plane choice in the embryo have been unclear. Here, we show that auxin-dependent division plane control involves alterations in cell geometry, but not in cell polarity axis or nuclear position. Through transcriptome profiling, we find that auxin regulates genes controlling cell wall and cytoskeleton properties. We confirm the involvement of microtubule (MT)-binding proteins in embryo division control. Organization of both MT and actin cytoskeleton depends on auxin response, and genetically controlled MT or actin depolymerization in embryos leads to disruption of asymmetric divisions, including reversion to the default. Our work shows how auxin-dependent control of MT and actin cytoskeleton properties interacts with cell geometry to generate asymmetric divisions during the earliest steps in plant development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4946-4955.E4
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 22 Nov 2021


  • auxin response
  • cell division orientation
  • cell shape
  • cytoskeleton
  • plant embryogenesis


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