(redirected from meristems)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical.


(mĕr`istĕm'), a specialized section of plant tissue characterized by cell division and growth. Much of the mature plant's growth is provided by meristems. Apical meristems found at the tips of stems and roots increase the length of these sections. Stems and roots may also grow in thickness or in diameter through cell divisions in lateral, or secondary, meristems, found just under the surface along the length of the stem or root. Tissues derived from differentiated lateral meristem are known as secondary tissues. In one type of lateral meristem, called cambium, or vascular cambium, the cells divide and differentiate to form the conducting tissues of the plant, i.e., the woodwood,
botanically, the xylem tissue that forms the bulk of the stem of a woody plant. Xylem conducts sap upward from the roots to the leaves, stores food in the form of complex carbohydrates, and provides support; it is made up of various types of cells specialized for each of
..... Click the link for more information.
, or xylem, and the phloem (see barkbark,
outer covering of the stem of woody plants, composed of waterproof cork cells protecting a layer of food-conducting tissue—the phloem or inner bark (also called bast).
..... Click the link for more information.
; stemstem,
supporting structure of a plant, serving also to conduct and to store food materials. The stems of herbaceous and of woody plants differ: those of herbaceous plants are usually green and pliant and are covered by a thin epidermis instead of by the bark of woody plants.
..... Click the link for more information.
). The growth in diameter of tree trunks is wholly dependent on the division of cambium cells. Other meristematic tissues include corkcork,
protective, waterproof outer covering of the stems and roots of woody plants. Cork is a specialized secondary tissue produced by the cork cambium of the plant (see meristem, bark).
..... Click the link for more information.
 cambium, which divides to produce waterproofing and protective cork tissue at the surface of the stem and root; and intercalary meristems, modified apical meristems found in different positions than either apical or lateral meristems, e.g., in the stem nodes of grasses. See also differentiationdifferentiation,
in biology, series of changes that occur in cells and tissues during development, resulting in their specialization. This, in turn, permits a greater variety of organisms.
..... Click the link for more information.
, in biology.



formative tissue, a plant tissue characterized by prolonged cell-division activity. Some cells of the meristem—the initiating cells—remain in the embryonic phase of development and, by dividing, provide uninterrupted growth of the plant body. Other cells of the meristem gradually become differentiated, forming various derivative tissues (integumentary, conducting, mechanical, basal).

Meristems originate from the protomeristem of the embryo, which develops into the apical and lateral meristems. The apical meristems—the growing points of shoots and roots—are formed very early in the embryo. The formation of the cotyledons and later of the leaf rudiments on the growing point of the shoot results in differentiation of the lateral meristems into the procambium and cambium. Meristematic tissue is partially preserved in some parts of the plant body during plant growth, for example, in the roots (Pericycle—rhizogenic meristem), the nodes of the shoot, and the medullary rays of the stem. Intercalary meristem is temporarily preserved in the buds, the inter-nodes of the shoot (Gramineae), and the bases of the petioles.

Because almost all living, mature tissues (except the sieve tubes) possess the capacity to divide, new, or secondary, meristems, such as Phellogen (forming cork tissue) and callus, may arise in the plant. Meristem cells differ from the cells of permanent tissues in that they are smaller, densely arranged, and almost cubical in shape (only cells of the procambium and cambium are elongated). They usually have a thin primary membrane and a dense protoplast, in which the nucleus and nucleolus occupy a central position. The endoplasmic network is poorly developed; there are many ribosomes. The mitochondria and dictyosomes are only slightly differentiated. The vacuoles are very small, and the plastids are in the form of protoplastids. Meristem cells are characterized by high metabolic activity.


Esau, K. Anatomiia rastenii. Moscow, 1969. (Translated from English.) Lehrbuch der Botanik fur Hochschulen, 30th ed. Jena, 1971.


Formative plant tissue composed of undifferentiated cells capable of dividing and giving rise to other meristematic cells as well as to specialized cell types; found in growth areas.
References in periodicals archive ?
The elusive nature of the lateral meristems in the monocotyledons has been posing problem with the application of relevant terminology.
The aim of this research was to investigate a detailed study on generative meristem and microsporogenesis of Lepidium sativum L.
This midge attacks the terminal meristem of a developing shoot, producing an apical bunch or rosette gall that provides protection for the developing midges and a habitat for a community of other insects.
After anthesis, the ovary presents uniseriate outer epidermis and mesophyll with three tissue regions: 1) An outer parenchymatous region, with thin-walled cells that vary in size and shape, and may present druses; 2) A middle region that originates from the middle meristem and consists of elongated cells that are oriented obliquely or transversely to the longitudinal axis of the ovary; and 3) An inner region that is uniseriate and has short palisade-like cells.
The vitrification (glass formation) procedure for cryopreservation eliminates the need for controlled slow freezing and permits cells and meristems to be cryopreserved by direct transfer into liquid nitrogen (Langis et al.
location of meristems, number of dormant buds activated, shoot size, and length) varies in response to the degree of browsing damage; such variance can affect both plant productivity and quality of forage.
It is mainly driven by the two botanical processes described above: branching resulting from the appearance of lateral buds in growth units and the differentiation sequence of meristems resulting in the change of PAs for terminal buds.
Evert (botany and plant pathology, emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Madison) provides a foundation on the meristems, cells, and tissues of the plant body, and notes some of the advances being made in the understanding of their function and development through molecular research.
Meristems are the most sensitive tissues that form the plant body.
Axillary buds are described as being initiated from detached meristems which show cytohistological zonation consisting of 2 layers, stratified initials, overlaying a group of subtending cells, the basal initials.