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Thread: Plant stems

  1. #1 Plant stems 
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    South Pennines, Yorkshire.
    Hi, I'm trying to brush up on my admittedly patchy knowledge of botany, and how plants actually grow in a technical sense. I always took it for granted that the way a plant's stem grows is basically through cell division, ever since I studied this subject academically. My understanding was that the apical/terminal bud deposited cells by which the stem was then extended, rather like someone sitting on top of a pile of bricks who keeps magicking another brick for the pile and sitting on top of it. But I keep reading things which slightly contradict this, suggesting that basically most stem growth is elongation, and that the cells are just lengthening. So is a stem a long continuous bunch of cells that just get longer, or is each spurt of growth made of entirely new cells recently deposited? I'm coming more to the conclusion that it is a case of the apical bud depositing new cells which then elongate below it. At what point does cell division come into it?
    I guess a simple way of illustrating my dilemma is as follows: if I painted a small dot towards the top of the stem of a plant, and came back a few weeks later after a period of growth, would that dot be in the same place at the same height from the ground, with new area of stem above, or would the dot have become stretched vertically as the area of stem it occupies is elongated?
    Youtube videos I've watched seem to contradict some of the above - in one, the new cells appear on the top of the existing ones, while the narrator says "Growth in plants is mainly due to the elongation of cells," though presumably this couldn't happen unless they had already divided from the original cells at the meristem.

    As a last aside, am I wrong to associate the meristem with the apical bud?


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