Direct conversion of root primordium into shoot meristem relies on timing of stem cell niche development.
Development. 2017 04 1 ;144(7):1187-1200. Epub 2017 Feb 7. PMID: 28174250
To understand how the identity of an organ can be switched, we studied the transformation of lateral root primordia (LRP) into shoot meristems inroot segments. In this system, the cytokinin-induced conversion does not involve the formation of callus-like structures. Detailed analysis showed that the conversion sequence starts with a mitotic pause and is concomitant with the differential expression of regulators of root and shoot development. The conversion requires the presence of apical stem cells, and only LRP at stages VI or VII can be switched. It is engaged as soon as cell divisions resume because their position and orientation differ in the converting organ compared with the undisturbed emerging LRP. By alternating auxin and cytokinin treatments, we showed that the root and shoot organogenetic programs are remarkably plastic, as the status of the same plant stem cell niche can be reversed repeatedly within a set developmental window. Thus, the networks at play in the meristem of a root can morph in the span of a couple of cell division cycles into those of a shoot, and back, through transdifferentiation.