Nitrate modulates stem cell dynamics in Arabidopsis shoot meristems through cytokinins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The shoot apical meristem (SAM) is responsible for the generation of all the aerial parts of plants. Given its critical role, dynamical changes in SAM activity should play a central role in the adaptation of plant architecture to the environment. Using quantitative microscopy, grafting experiments, and genetic perturbations, we connect the plant environment to the SAM by describing the molecular mechanism by which cytokinins signal the level of nutrient availability to the SAM. We show that a systemic signal of cytokinin precursors mediates the adaptation of SAM size and organogenesis rate to the availability of mineral nutrients by modulating the expression of WUSCHEL, a key regulator of stem cell homeostasis. In time-lapse experiments, we further show that this mechanism allows meristems to adapt to rapid changes in nitrate concentration, and thereby modulate their rate of organ production to the availability of mineral nutrients within a few days. Our work sheds light on the role of the stem cell regulatory network by showing that it not only maintains meristem homeostasis but also allows plants to adapt to rapid changes in the environment.


  • Benoit Landrein
  • Pau Formosa-Jordan
  • Alice Malivert
  • Christoph Schuster
  • Charles W. Melnyk
  • Weibing Yang
  • Colin Turnbull
  • Elliot M. Meyerowitz
  • James C.W. Locke
  • Henrik Jönsson
External organisations
  • University of Cambridge
  • Ecole Normale Superieure de Lyon
  • Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
  • Imperial College London
  • California Institute of Technology
  • Claude Bernard University Lyon 1
  • Microsoft Research Ltd, UK
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Cell Biology
  • Bioinformatics and Systems Biology


  • Arabidopsis, Cytokinin hormones, Plant development, Plant nutrition, Shoot apical meristem
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1382-1387
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Feb 6
Publication categoryResearch