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Changes in the pattern of cell arrangement at the surface of the shoot apical meristem in Hedera helix L. following gibberellin treatment


The changes in the pattern of cell arrangement and surface topography at the shoot apical meristem of Hedera helix L., which occur during gibberellic acid (GA3)-induced transition from spiral to distichous phyllotaxis, were examined by scanning electron microscopy of rapidly frozen tissue. The technique preserves the original shape of the cells in their turgid state. It reveals distinct sets of radially oriented cell files, about four to eight cells wide, which extend from the central region of the meristem toward leaf primordia on the meristem flanks. In apices with spiral phyllotaxis, a new emerging primordium (0) appears as an acropetal bulge between the radial files adjacent to the third (3) and the second (2) older primordia. The bulging is associated with radial or oblique cell divisions while those located at the meristem flanks and in the radial files are oriented tangentially. As the displacement of existing primordia away from the central region increases following the GA3 treatment, radial and oblique divisions as well as acropetal bulging invade the radial files adjacent to the primordium 2; consequently the angular divergence of the emerging primordium from the youngest existing primordium (1) increases. In apices with distichous phyllotaxis, the earliest bulging appears on both sides of the radial files facing primordium 2, with a slight depression at the files. The radial files therefore correspond to regions of the meristem where acropetal bulging is generally delayed, although this effect apparently diminishes with increasing distance of existing primordia from the meristem center.

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GA3 :

gibberellic acid


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We thank Mr. Gilbert Ahlstrand, University of Minnesota, for his advice and assistance with the scanning electron microscopy. Contribution of the University of Minnesota Agricultural Experimental Station No. 19032.

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Marc, J., Hackett, W.P. Changes in the pattern of cell arrangement at the surface of the shoot apical meristem in Hedera helix L. following gibberellin treatment. Planta 186, 503–510 (1992).

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Key words

  • Cell division
  • Gibberellin and phyllotaxis
  • Hedera
  • Leaf primordium
  • Phyllotactic transition
  • Shoot apical meristem