Studying the cells of our floral friends can reveal some basic principles about the cells in our own bodies. For example, both animal and plant cells generally need to regulate their size, and how they do it is a bit of a mystery. To gain insight, 3D microscopy is used to track how cells of the small flowering plant, Arabidopsis thaliana, grow and divide. In the developing flower bud (pictured), cells marked in blue are those selected for tracking, and green staining indicates cells that are replicating their DNA, in preparation for division. Researchers discovered that these bud cells don’t start DNA replication and cell division until they reach a certain volume. But in another part of the plant these processes aren’t coordinated, leading to more variable cell sizes. Examining molecular differences between these two regions will enable identification of genes and pathways that keep cell sizes in check.
Written by Ruth Williams
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