Seeds of Arabidopsis thaliana, heterozygous for the alb1 mutation were treated with X-rays to generate sectors of albino tissue in the mature plants. Sectors were observed in tissues derived from L2 and L3 layers of the shoot meristem. Altogether 324 sectors were obtained affecting 512 leaves or the inflorescence. The majority of sectors affected only one or other of the first leaf pair. In later leaves, sectors were less frequent, and often affected more than one leaf. Sectors seen in the flowers almost invariably included some of the cauline leaves. Sectors in any region of the plant were of variable length and width. The axillary meristems of Arabidopsis were found to be clonally related to two or more cells near the centre of the subtending leaf. Overall the data are compatible with the idea that there are few, if any, restrictions on cell fate within the cell layers of the dry seed meristem. As in other higher plants, developmental fate could only be predicted in a general and probabilistic way. Such a pattern might be generated if the acquisition of cell fate occurred continuously as the plant grows, in a position-dependent, lineage-independent fashion. A general model of the meristem has been produced to accommodate the observations concerning the great majority of the sectors.

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