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'Cellular Compass' guides plant stem cell division

Cell divisions during leaf formation

This image shows the cellular outlines (shown in magenta) and the DNA (shown in green).

Andrew Muroyama
Sep 22 2020

Posted In:

Research, Faculty

In a paper published Sept. 17 in Current Biology, researchers in the lab of Dominique Bergmann observed the formation of leaves and noticed the nuclei moved in bewildering ways. Further investigation uncovered proteins that act as compasses and motors, guiding the divisions of individual cells to create the overall pattern of the leaf. Andrew Muroyama, a postdoctoral scholar in the lab of Stanford University biologist Dominique Bergmann, monitored days of leaf development in the flowering plant Arabidopsis thaliana. There, amongst a thousand cells under his microscope, he noticed that the nucleus – the DNA-containing control center in the cell – moved in unexpected and strangely purposeful ways as stem cells divided.

“I think our research highlights that the ability to watch the behaviors of cellular machines within living organisms can reveal unexpectedly elegant ways that individual cells cooperate to build tissues,” said Muroyama, who is lead author of the paper. “You might think that something as fundamental as cell division would be completely solved by now but there is still so much to learn.”