Background

The proccss of cell division is die principal method of plant growth, with the majority of growth occurring in stem tips, root tips, and other mcristcmatic areas. Meristcms are regions of active cell division. Most of the cells produced in meristcms differentiate into specialized tissues, while other cells remain mcristcmatic, continually producing more new cclls. Apical meristcms, found at the tip of every stem, branch, and root, contribute to the increase in length of the plant. Tissues that develop from apical meristcms contribute to the primary growth of the plant; primary tissues include leaves, nonwoody stems, and nonwoodv roots. Some plants have secondary mcristems that give rise to increases in diameter, which constitutes secondary growth. The vascular cambium and cork cambium are the two secondary meristcms that occur in w oody plants.

Cell division is characterized by two events: mitosis. which produces two exact copies of the nucleus, and cytokinesis, which is the division of the cytoplasm that occurs during the later stages of mitosis. Once mitosis begins, the proccss continues without stopping until two daughter cells are produced.

The production of new cclls through cell division not only results in plant growth and enables plants to repair wounds, but can even lead to the formation of new, genetically identical individuals called cloncs. In this laboratory topic, wc will examine the proccss of cell division. Wc will also sec how this process is used to clone new-plants through tissue culture and asexual reproduction.

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