A complex systems approach to Arabidopsis root stem-cell niche developmental mechanisms: from molecules, to networks, to morphogenesis
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- Azpeitia, E. & Alvarez-Buylla, E.R. Plant Mol Biol (2012) 80: 351. doi:10.1007/s11103-012-9954-6
Recent reports have shown that the molecular mechanisms involved in root stem-cell niche development in Arabidopsis thaliana are complex and contain several feedback loops and non-additive interactions that need to be analyzed using computational and formal approaches. Complex systems cannot be understood in terms of the behavior of their isolated components, but they emerge as a consequence of largely non-linear interactions among their components. The study of complex systems has provided a useful approach for the exploration of system-level characteristics and behaviors of the molecular networks involved in cell differentiation and morphogenesis during development. We analyzed the complex molecular networks underlying stem-cell niche patterning in the A. thaliana root in terms of some of the key dynamic traits of complex systems: self-organization, modularity and structural properties. We use these analyses to integrate the available root stem-cell niche molecular mechanisms data and postulate novel hypotheses, missing components and interactions and explain apparent contradictions in the literature.