Apical cells as meristems

Acta Biotheoretica 41 (3):175-189 (1993)
Apical cells are universally present in lower plants and their description has been mostly viewed morphologically as single-celled meristems. This study attempts to demonstrate that the roles of apical cells and more generally of meristems collectively are (a) often the proliferative source of all cells in a plant, (b) sometimes a formative centre in histogenesis and organogenesis and (c) always a regulatory site. As a proliferative centre it occurs as a series of apical cells through a mitotic lineage by unequal divisions which includes a rotational pattern to form cells distributed according to the symmetry of its organ. As a formative centre it determines leaf arrangement in mosses and leafy liverworts as well as the root cap and gametophyte cushion in ferns. It appears initially to determine the type of organ and later the organ determines the type of apical cells within. As a regulatory centre it activates distal secondary cells to proliferate as well as inhibiting neighbouring cells from becoming apical cells to preserve the identity of an organ during its development.Based on these three roles by which apical cells can be recognized an argument can be drafted that seed plants may have apical cells, although morphologically indistinguishable from other cells, singularly or in batteries instead of possessing the traditionally described multicellular meristems.
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DOI 10.1007/BF00712165
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