[Chin-Min Ho] Multipotency in leaf epidermal cells

During development, a rare cell population called stem cells can regenerate or differentiate into cells with specific functions. This ability is called potency. How is the potency of stem cells maintained and how do stem cells decide to continue to divide or differentiate are not clear. Assistant research fellow Chin-Min Ho and the laboratory of Dr. Dominique Bergmann in Stanford University used leaf epidermal stem cells (SLGCs, stomatal lineage ground cells) to explore the multipotency in leaf epidermis. Studies have found that SLGCs are division-competent cells. With their unique sets of cell cycle regulators, SLGCs are poised between mitosis and endoreduplication. Because of the adaptable developmental program, leaf epidermal cells can reshape and generate the requisite pattern and structure of epidermal cells in response to environmental stimuli. Knowledge gained from this study offers the potential to improve plant growth and productivity in adverse conditions.