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Cellular Basis Of Hypocotyl Growth In Arabidopsis Thaliana

E. Gendreau, J. Traas, T. Desnos, O. Grandjean, M. Caboche, H. Hofte

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Abstract The Arabidopsis thaliana hypocotyl is widely used to study the effects of light and plant growth factors on cell elongation. To provide a framework for the molecular-genetic analysis of cell elongation in this organ, here we describe, at the cellular level, its morphology and growth and identify a number of characteristic, developmental differences between light-grown and dark-grown hypocotyls. First, in the light epidermal cells show a characteristic differentiation that is not observed in the dark. Second, elongation growth of this organ does not involve significant cortical or epidermal cell divisions. However, endoreduplication occurs, as revealed by the presence of 4C and 8C nuclei. In addition, 16C nuclei were found specifically in dark-grown seedlings. Third, in the dark epidermal cells elongate along a steep, acropetal spatial and temporal gradient along the hypocotyl. In contrast, in the light all epidermal cells elongated continuously during the entire growth period. These morphological and physiological differences, in combination with previously reported genetic data (T. Desnos, V. Orbovic, C. Bellini, J. Kronenberger, M. Caboche, J. Traas, H. Hofte [1996] Development 122: 683–693), illustrate that light does not simply inhibit hypocotyl growth in a cell-autonomous fashion, but that the observed growth response to light is a part of an integrated developmental change throughout the elongating organ.