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Development (Cambridge, England)


Why living forms develop in a relatively robust manner, despite various sources of internal or external variability, is a fundamental question in developmental biology. Part of the answer relies on the notion of developmental constraints: at any stage of ontogenesis, morphogenetic processes are constrained to operate within the context of the current organism being built. One such universal constraint is the shape of the organism itself, which progressively channels the development of the organism toward its final shape. Here, we illustrate this notion with plants, where strikingly symmetric patterns (phyllotaxis) are formed by lateral organs. This Hypothesis article aims first to provide an accessible overview of phyllotaxis, and second to argue that the spiral patterns in plants are progressively canalized from local interactions of nascent organs. The relative uniformity of the organogenesis process across all plants then explains the prevalence of certain patterns in plants, i.e. Fibonacci phyllotaxis.


Apical meristems, Canalization, Divergence angle, Fibonacci sequence, Phyllotaxis, Spiral patterns







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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Licensed to Smith College and distributed CC-BY under the Smith College Faculty Open Access Policy.


Peer reviewed accepted manuscript.

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Mathematics Commons



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