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Keywords:

  • Arabidopsis;
  • embryogenesis;
  • morphogenesis;
  • pattern formation;
  • transcription factors

Summary

Four basic ingredients of morphogenesis, oriented cell division and expansion, cell–cell communication and cell fate specification allow plant cells to develop into a wide variety of organismal architectures. A central question in plant biology is how these cellular processes are regulated and orchestrated. Here, we present the advantages of the early Arabidopsis embryo as a model for studying the control of morphogenesis. All ingredients of morphogenesis converge during embryogenesis, and the highly predictable nature of embryo development offers unprecedented opportunities for understanding their regulation in time and space. In this review we describe the morphogenetic principles underlying embryo patterning and discuss recent advances in their regulation. Morphogenesis is under tight transcriptional control and most genes that were identified as important regulators of embryo patterning encode transcription factors or components of signaling pathways. There exists, therefore, a large gap between the transcriptional control of embryo morphogenesis and the cellular execution. We describe the first such connections, and propose future directions that should help bridge this gap and generate comprehensive understanding of the control of morphogenesis.