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(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
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, 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).
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; 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.
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). 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).
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 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.
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, 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 ?
Seedlings were cut in to 5x5 mm2 segments and the explants were comprised of cotyledon leaf, apical meristem, stem and roots.
Takagi (2000) compared the behavior of several tropical species of banana and ranked banana among the sensitive plant speies since all meristems were killed by 10 min PVS2 treatment at room temperature and 70% of Taro meristems survived at 60 min treatment.
Meristems are areas of actively dividing cells in plants.
Shoot and root meristems (see Figure 7-8) that cause a plant to grow vertically (higher in the air and deeper in the ground) comprise the apical meristems, giving rise to the primary tissue of a plant.
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.
In several aloe species, somatic organogenesis is the most common regeneration pathway and has been obtained from apical meristems (Natali et al.
Depending on species, metamers are set in place rhythmically--plants grow by successive shoots of several metamers--or continuously--when meristems keep on functioning and generate metamers one by one.
Esau's plant anatomy; meristems, cells, and tissues of the plant body; their structure, function, and development, 3d ed.
Developmental studies focus on the activity and fate of meristems throughout the plant, and illustrate how adult morphology arises.
Interestingly, generally no viruses are found in plant meristems; therefore, starting plants from a meristem ensures that all derived plants will lack viruses.
MAIZE PLANTS initiate axillary meristems on most nodes of the main stalk, but many potential ear shoots abort during plant development, resulting in one or two grain-filled ears in most commercial hybrids (Sass and Loeffel, 1959).
Leaf explants formed callus on all media tested; meristems developed and the explant turned green by 21 days incubation.