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By Michael T. McManus

Provides an outline of the function of meristematic tissues in plant development and improvement. A worthy source for plant geneticists, developmental biologists, and molecular biologists.

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1991). The first indication of a role for KN1 in cell fate specification came from the analysis of dominant mutations that caused the formation of outgrowths or 'knots' on leaves (Bryan and Sass, 1941; Freeling and Hake, 1985), a phenotype which correlated with ectopic expression ofKNl mRNA and protein in vascular bundles of developing mutant leaves (Smith et al, 1992). In wild-type plants, KN1 is not detected in differentiated tissues, such as leaves, but instead is expressed in the subepidermal cells of vegetative and floral meristems (Smith et al, 1992; Jackson et al, 1994).

Due to the activity of one or more modifying loci, permissive inbred backgrounds have taller meristems, such that loss of KN1 activity reduces meristem size but not below the threshold. , 1994), including knox3, knox4 and rough sheath 1 (rsl), and these display meristem expression patterns that overlap with KNJ (Jackson et al, 1994; Kerstetter et al, 1994). These data suggest that knox genes may provide partially redundant shoot meristem maintenance functions in maize, and may be candidates for modifiers of meristem size.

After germination, adventitious meristems are sporadically generated at multiple foci, but these meristems are transient and form only a few organs before terminating prematurely in aberrant flat structures. Unlike wild-type meristems, which initiate organs from the flanks of the shoot apex, wus mutant plants initiate lateral organ primordia randomly across the entire apex. Reiterative generation and premature termination of wus meristems eventually produces bushy plants with multiple rosettes.

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