Cellular and gene expression patterns associated with root bifurcation in Selaginella

Hans Motte, Tao Fang, Boris Parizot, Wouter Smet, Xilan Yang, Ward Poelmans, Liam Walker, Maria Njo, George W. Bassel, Tom Beeckman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The roots of lycophytes branch through dichotomy or bifurcation, during which the root apex splits into two daughter roots. This is morphologically distinct from lateral root (LR) branching in the extant euphyllophytes, with LRs developing along the root axis at different distances from the apex. Although the process of root bifurcation is poorly understood, such knowledge can be important, because it may represent an evolutionarily ancient strategy that roots recruited to form new stem cells or meristems. In this study, we examined root bifurcation in the lycophyte Selaginella moellendorffii. We characterized an in vitro developmental time frame based on repetitive apex bifurcations, allowing us to sample different stages of dichotomous root branching and analyze the root meristem and root branching in S. moellendorffii at the microscopic and transcriptomic level. Our results showed that, in contrast to previous assumptions, initial cells (ICs) in the root meristem are mostly not tetrahedral but rather show an irregular shape. Tracking down the early stages of root branching argues for the occurrence of a symmetric division of the single IC, resulting in two apical stem cells that initiate root meristem bifurcation. Moreover, we generated a S. moellendorffii root branching transcriptome that resulted in the delineation of a subset of core meristem genes. The occurrence of multiple putative orthologs of meristem genes in this dataset suggests the presence of conserved pathways in the control of meristem and root stem cell establishment or maintenance.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2398-2416
Number of pages19
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Generated from Scopus record by KAUST IRTS on 2023-10-23

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science
  • Genetics
  • Physiology


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