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Plant Stem Cells

Plant stem cells are quite different to animal stem cells, in terms of both where they are located and what types of cells they can differentiate into.

Plant stem cells are located in meristems

The stem cells in plants are located in regions called meristems. The meristems are usually found at the tips of roots and shoots (although there can also be meristems in other locations).

Diagram of a plant. The tips of the roots and shoots have label lines coming from them which point to labels saying "Meristems". One of the meristems is shown zoomed in in a separate box. It is a round structure (at the very tip of a shoot). A label line from the top of the meristem points to a drawing of a group of plant stem cells, labelled "Stem Cells".

Meristems are found at the tips of shoots and roots. They contain stem cells.

Plant stem cells can differentiate into any cell type

A plant stem cell can differentiate into any cell type that is found in that plant (for example, a root hair cell, a xylem cell, a phloem cell, etc.).

This is a major difference between plant stem cells and animal stem cells. In animals, only embryonic stem cells have the ability to differentiate into any cell type. Once the animal is an adult, it does not have any stem cells that can do this. Whereas in plants, all stem cells have the ability to differentiate into any cell type, regardless of whether they are in a plant embryo or an adult plant.

Diagram of a plant stem cell, showing that it can differentiate into any cell types. The cell types shown as examples are a root hair cell, a xylem cell and a phloem cell. There are arrows from a drawing of a plant stem cell to drawings of each of these cell types. Each arrow is labelled "Differentiation".

A plant stem cell can differentiate into any cell type found in that plant.


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Where are plant stem cells found?


What cell types can a plant stem cell differentiate into?


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