The Selaginella rhizophore has a unique transcriptional identity compared with root and shoot meristems

Alison Mello, Idan Efroni, Ramin Rahni, Kenneth D. Birnbaum*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The genus Selaginella resides in an early branch of the land plant lineage that possesses a vasculature and roots. The majority of the Selaginella root system is shoot borne and emerges through a distinctive structure known as the rhizophore, the organ identity of which has been a long-debated question. The rhizophore of Selaginella moellendorffii – a model for the lycophytes – shows plasticity to develop into a root or shoot up until 8 d after angle meristem emergence, after which it is committed to root fate. We subsequently use morphology and plasticity to define the stage of rhizophore identity. Transcriptomic analysis of the rhizophore during its plastic stage reveals that, despite some resemblance to the root meristem, rhizophore gene expression patterns are largely distinct from both shoot and root meristems. Based on this transcriptomic analysis and on historical anatomical work, we conclude that the rhizophore is a distinct organ with unique features.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)882-894
Number of pages13
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Jody Banks for supplying material and growth and life history information on S. moellendorffii. IE is supported by an HHMI International Research Scholar Grant. This work was supported by National Institutes of Health grant R01GM078279 to KDB.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Blackwell Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved.


  • Selaginella moellendorffii
  • early meristem
  • lycophyte evolution
  • lycophyte roots
  • rhizophore


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