Cell Cycle Regulation and Plant Development A Crop Production Perspective

Authored by: Paolo A. Sabelli

Handbook of Plant and Crop Physiology

Print publication date:  March  2014
Online publication date:  March  2014

Print ISBN: 9781466553286
eBook ISBN: 9781466553293
Adobe ISBN:


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Cell number and expansion are two key parameters controlling the size of tissues, organs, and the whole plant. The cell division cycle is directly responsible for cell production (i.e., cell number), but it also influences plant shape, architecture, and morphogenesis through spatial regulation of cell wall deposition at cytokinesis, and at least in some notable cases of agricultural relevance also through cell expansion. Thus, it is intuitive that detailed understanding of the cell cycle, coupled with the ability to manipulate it, has the potential to significantly contribute to maximizing crop yield and sustaining agricultural output in the face of future depletion of resources and increased demand. Over the last 20 years or so, remarkable progress has been made in understanding how the plant cell cycle is regulated in biochemical, genetic, and physiological terms, particularly in the model species Arabidopsis thaliana. Key molecular players have been identified that govern the workings of the cell cycle that are highly conserved among plants and that, in some cases, have critically helped advance the understanding of the cell cycle in animals as well. However, we are currently faced with an apparent paradox where despite the advances in model plant systems, it is difficult to translate this knowledge into suitable applications for the improvement of crops, agriculture, and civilization as a whole. This is partly due, on the one hand, to the higher level of biological complexity of crop species compared to simpler model systems and, on the other hand, to the paucity of cell cycle research efforts in agriculturally important plants. As a result, our knowledge of cell cycle regulation in crops is rudimentary and rather stagnant, thereby undermining or delaying attempts aimed at transferring basic research findings into agriculture practice.

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