Precise control of plant stem cell activity through parallel regulatory inputs

T. Bennett, A. van Toorn, V. Willemsen, B. Scheres

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


The regulation of columella stem cell activity in the Arabidopsis root cap by a nearby organizing centre, the quiescent centre, has been a key example of the stem cell niche paradigm in plants. Here, we investigate interactions between transcription factors that have been shown to regulate columella stem cells using a simple quantification method for stem cell activity in the root cap. Genetic and expression analyses reveal that the RETINOBLASTOMA-RELATED protein, the FEZ and SOMBRERO NAC-domain transcription factors, the ARF10 and ARF16 auxin response factors and the quiescent centre-expressed WOX5 homeodomain protein each provide independent inputs to regulate the number of columella stem cells. Given the tight control of columella development, we found that these inputs act in a surprisingly parallel manner. Nevertheless, important points of interaction exist; for example, we demonstrate the repression of SMB activity by non-autonomous action of WOX5. Our results suggest that the developmental progression of columella stem cells may be quantitatively regulated by several more broadly acting transcription factors rather than by a single intrinsic stem cell factor, which raises questions about the special nature of the stem cell state in plants.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4055-4064
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • arabidopsis-thaliana root
  • transcription factor
  • shoot apex
  • meristem
  • gene
  • differentiation
  • organization
  • maintenance
  • homeostasis
  • sombrero


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