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Apical Meristem & Primary Shoot System Growth

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  1. 0:04 Shoot System Review
  2. 0:30 Nodes and Buds
  3. 1:42 The Meristem and Primary Growth
  4. 3:34 Lesson Summary
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Taught by

Danielle Weber

Danielle teaches high school science and has an master's degree in science education.

Just like humans, plants need to grow. In this lesson, you'll see how plant growth occurs at specific locations and how the height of the plant is increased.

Shoot System Review

We've been through the basic structures of the shoot system, and now we'll explore a few structures that are involved in the growth of the stem, as well as the types of growth found in plant stems.

As a quick review, the shoot system is the above-ground structure of plants including the leaves, buds, stems, flowers and fruits of plants. We'll focus on the growth of the stem for now, but later on we'll look at other plant structures.

Nodes are an indicator of growth on the stem
Nodes and Internodes

Nodes and Buds

On the stem are several indicators of growth, including nodes and buds. Nodes are where leaves are located. The spaces between nodes are known as internodes. You can remember that internodes are between the nodes by relating the term to similar words. For example, the intermission occurs between different acts of a play and an interchange is between two or more highways.

Buds also indicate the growth of a plant. There are three main types of buds that we will look at: terminal, lateral and accessory. Terminal buds are located at the tip of the stem. After a terminal bud has developed, it will leave a terminal bud scar. On some plants, the space between a terminal bud and the previous bud scar indicate the amount of growth over the past year. When a bud is not found at the tip of the stem, it is called a lateral bud. These buds are therefore found on the side of a stem. While we just introduced two types of buds, it is important to note that buds do not always form individually and may be accompanied by accessory buds. These are often found in pairs and are located beside terminal or lateral buds.

The Meristem and Primary Growth

The main location of all growth in the stem is found at the meristems, which are the tissues of the stem capable of cell division. There are two types of meristem in the plant stem: apical meristem, which is found at the tip of the stem, and lateral meristem, which is found surrounding the stem.

The three main types of buds
Bud Types

The growth at the apical meristem that we will now look at is considered primary growth. This type of growth increases the length of the stem, making the plant taller. It happens in both monocot and dicot plants.

The cell division that occurs at the meristem is what creates new cells and therefore new plant tissue. There are three different types of tissues that the meristem can make: protoderm, ground meristem and procambium. All three types of tissues are then able to make the tissue in a mature stem. The protoderm will eventually make the epidermis of the stem. This is the outer protective covering of the stem. A good way to remember what the protoderm becomes and what the epidermis does is to think of the root word 'dermis,' which means skin. If you have trouble with your skin, you will go to see a dermatologist.

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