Fundamental mechanisms of the stem cell regulation in land plants: lesson from shoot apical cells in bryophytes

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Key message: This review compares the molecular mechanisms of stem cell control in the shoot apical meristems of mosses and angiosperms and reveals the conserved features and evolution of plant stem cells. Abstract: The establishment and maintenance of pluripotent stem cells in the shoot apical meristem (SAM) are key developmental processes in land plants including the most basal, bryophytes. Bryophytes, such as Physcomitrium (Physcomitrella) patens and Marchantia polymorpha, are emerging as attractive model species to study the conserved features and evolutionary processes in the mechanisms controlling stem cells. Recent studies using these model bryophyte species have started to uncover the similarities and differences in stem cell regulation between bryophytes and angiosperms. In this review, we summarize findings on stem cell function and its regulation focusing on different aspects including hormonal, genetic, and epigenetic control. Stem cell regulation through auxin, cytokinin, CLAVATA3/EMBRYO SURROUNDING REGION-RELATED (CLE) signaling and chromatin modification by Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 (PRC2) and PRC1 is well conserved. Several transcription factors crucial for SAM regulation in angiosperms are not involved in the regulation of the SAM in mosses, but similarities also exist. These findings provide insights into the evolutionary trajectory of the SAM and the fundamental mechanisms involved in stem cell regulation that are conserved across land plants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-225
Number of pages13
JournalPlant Molecular Biology
Issue number4-5
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Nov


  • Physcomitrium (physcomitrella) patens
  • Plant evolution
  • Plant stem cells
  • Shoot apical cell
  • Shoot apical meristem


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