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© 2017 Elsevier Ltd A landmark of developmental biology is the production of reproducible shapes, through stereotyped morphogenetic events. At the cell level, growth is often highly heterogeneous, allowing shape diversity to arise. Yet, how can reproducible shapes emerge from such growth heterogeneity? Is growth heterogeneity filtered out? Here, we focus on rapidly growing trichome cells in the Arabidopsis sepal, a reproducible floral organ. We show via computational modeling that rapidly growing cells may distort organ shape. However, the cortical microtubule alignment along growth-derived maximal tensile stress in adjacent cells would mechanically isolate rapidly growing cells and limit their impact on organ shape. In vivo, we observed such microtubule response to stress and consistently found no significant effect of trichome number on sepal shape in wild-type and lines with trichome number defects. Conversely, modulating the microtubule response to stress in katanin and spiral2 mutant made sepal shape dependent on trichome number, suggesting that, while mechanical signals are propagated around rapidly growing cells, the resistance to stress in adjacent cells mechanically isolates rapidly growing cells, thus contributing to organ shape reproducibility. Hervieux et al. show that local growth heterogeneities within an epithelium trigger mechanical conflicts and consequently a stereotypical cytoskeletal response in adjacent cells. This leads to the mechanical shielding of rapidly growing cells, thus buffering growth heterogeneities and finally contributing to organ shape reproducibility.

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Current Biology

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