, Volume 249, Issue 2, pp 239–253 | Cite as

Universal rules for division plane selection in plants

  • Sabine MüllerEmail author
Review Article


Coordinated cell divisions and cell expansion are the key processes that command growth in all organisms. The orientation of cell divisions and the direction of cell expansion are critical for normal development. Symmetric divisions contribute to proliferation and growth, while asymmetric divisions initiate pattern formation and differentiation. In plants these processes are of particular importance since their cells are encased in cellulosic walls that determine their shape and lock their position within tissues and organs. Several recent studies have analyzed the relationship between cell shape and patterns of symmetric cell division in diverse organisms and employed biophysical and mathematical considerations to develop computer simulations that have allowed accurate prediction of cell division patterns. From these studies, a picture emerges that diverse biological systems follow simple universal rules of geometry to select their division planes and that the microtubule cytoskeleton takes a major part in sensing the geometric information and translates this information into a specific division outcome. In plant cells, the division plane is selected before mitosis, and spatial information of the division plane is preserved throughout division by the presence of reference molecules at a distinct region of the plasma membrane, the cortical division zone. The recruitment of these division zone markers occurs multiple times by several mechanisms, suggesting that the cortical division zone is a highly dynamic region.


Cell division Division plane orientation Cytoskeleton Microtubules Actin filaments Phragmoplast Preprophase band Cell shape 





Actin filaments


Microtubule organizing center


Microtubule associated proteins


Mitogen activated protein kinase


Post-translational tubulin modifications


Nuclear envelope


Nuclear envelope breakdown


Clathrin-coated vesicles


Endoplasmic reticulum


Bright yellow-2



Work in this field of research in my laboratory is supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Project MU 3133/1-1).

Conflict of interest

The author declares to have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Plant Molecular Biology—Developmental GeneticsUniversity of TübingenTübingenGermany

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