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A meristem at the tip of a plant shoot or root that produces auxin and causes the shoot or root to
increase in length.

Apical meristem
 Growth that originates in the apical meristem is called primary growth.
 Apical meristem is a region of rapidly-dividing cells found at a plant's root and shoot tips
 Division of these cells always results in primary (vertical) growth, both at the root and
 Shoot apex occurs at the tip of stem and its branches as terminal bud.
 It is conical or dome-shaped and is always covered by young leaves, arising from its
sides, called shoot apical meristem.

Organisation of an apical meristem (growing tip)

1 - Central zone
2 - Peripheral zone
3 - Medullary (i.e. central) meristem
4 - Medullary tissue

 The number of layers varies according to plant type. In general the outermost layer is called
the tunica while the innermost layers are the corpus.
 In monocots, the tunica determine the physical characteristics of the leaf edge and margin.
In dicots, layer two of the corpus determine the characteristics of the edge of the leaf.
 The corpus and tunica play a critical part of the plant physical appearance as all plant cells
are formed from the meristems.
 Apical meristems are found in two locations: the root and the stem. Some Arctic plants have
an apical meristem in the lower/middle parts of the plant.
 The shoot apical meristem is the site of most of the embryogenesis in flowering plants
Primordia of leaves, sepals, petals, stamens and ovaries are initiated here at the rate of one
every time interval, called a plastochron. It is where the first indications that flower
development has been evoked are manifested.
 The shoot apical meristem consists of 4 distinct cell groups:
1. Stem cells
2. The immediate daughter cells of the stem cells
3. A subjacent organising centre
4. Founder cells for organ initiation in surrounding regions

Theories of structural organisation of shoot apical meristem

Several theories have been put forward to explain the activity of shoot apical meristem.
(a) Apical cell Theory:
 According to Nageli, the activity of single apical cell leads to the development of entire
plant body.
 This theory is applicable to algal forms and cryptogams.
(b) Histogen Theory:
 According to Hanstein, the apical meristem consists of three distinct histological zones
called histogens.
 The outermost mantle like layer of cells is called dermatogen.
 The underlying layers of cells form periblem.
 The central zone of cells is called plerome.
(c) Tunica-Corpus Theory:
 This theory was proposed by Schmidt (1924).
 It recognizes only two zones in the apical meristem-tunica and corpus.
 The cells of tunica are small. They are divided in anti-clinal plane only and, therefore,
take part in surface growth.
 The cells derived from tunica, rise to epidermis of both stem as well as leaves.
 The cells of corpus are comparatively larger.
 They divide in different planes.
 They derived from corpus to give rise to procambium and ground meristem.
 Procambium gives rise to primary phloem, primary xylem and intrafascicular :cambium.


 Root apical meristem is the region within the growing root containing meristematic
 Meristematic cells are generally small and cuboidal with large nuclei, small vacuoles, and
thin walls. A plant has four kinds of meristems: the apical meristem and three kinds of
lateral—vascular cambium, cork cambium, and intercalary meristem.

1 - quiescent center
2 - calyptrogen (live rootcap cells)
3 - rootcap
4 - sloughed off dead rootcap cells
5 - procambium

Theories of structural organisation of root apical meristem

Korper-Kappe Theory of Root Apex

 The theory was put forward by Schuepp (1917).

 It is similar to the tunica-corpus theory of the shoot apex.

 It is based on differences in the planes of cell division.

 The theory says that the cells in the root apex divide in a pattern called T-divisions. The
outer region of the root apex is the Kappe.

 The cells of this region divide first horizontally. The lower daughter cell then divides
longitudinally, i.e. at right angles to the plane of the first division.

 Thus the planes of the two divisions form a T in a median longitudinal section of the root.
The inner region of the apex is the korper.
 Unlike the shoot apical meristem, the root apical meristem produces cells in two
dimensions. .
 It harbors two pools of stem cells around an organizing center called the quiescent center
(QC) cells and together produce most of the cells in an adult root.
 At its apex, the root meristem is covered by the root cap, which protects and guides its
growth trajectory.
 Cells are continuously sloughed off the outer surface of the root cap.
 The QC cells are characterized by their low mitotic activity.
 Evidence suggests that the QC maintains the surrounding stem cells by preventing their
differentiation, via signal(s) that are yet to be discovered.
 This allows a constant supply of new cells in the meristem required for continuous root
growth. Recent findings indicate that QC can also act as a reservoir of stem cells to
replenish whatever is lost or damaged.
 Root apical meristem and tissue patterns become established in the embryo in the case of
the primary root, and in the new lateral root primordium in the case of secondary roots.
 Root apical meristem serves as the source of new cells for root growth.
 In the root apical meristem, the stem cell niche sustains pluripotent stems cells to ensure a
constant supply of cells for continuous root growth.

 In the root meristem, cell fate decisions are made based on positional information and
various intrinsic and extrinsic signals.

 Owing to the vital importance of roots in overall plant health and survival, study of roots
and root meristem poses utmost significance in plant biology.