Prenatal plumbing—vascular tissue formation in the plant embryo



The first vascular tissue precursors are specified early during embryogenesis. These precursors give rise to the multi-layered cylinder of hypocotyl and root through controlled, oriented divisions. Concomitant with its growth, the bundle is patterned into xylem and phloem tissues, and intervening procambial cells. These patterns are later maintained during post-embryonic growth and vascular cells will eventually differentiate, displaying characteristic secondary cell wall modifications. Given that the vascular system forms de novo in a simple yet predictable fashion, the embryo provides an excellent model system to study early developmental aspects of vascular tissue formation. However, the benefits of this model are only beginning to be exploited, and most knowledge about the vascular development is derived from growing post-embryonic tissues. Importantly, it is unclear how much of these established post-embryonic mechanisms can be extrapolated to tissue formation during embryogenesis. Here we review concepts established in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana and focus on recent advances made in understanding embryonic vascular development.