Mutants with altered patterns of lignification have been identified in a population of mutagenised Arabidopsis seedlings. One of the mutants exhibited ectopic lignification (eli) of cells throughout the plant that never normally lignify. The reduced expansion of eli1 cells resulted in a stunted phenotype, and xylem cells were misshapen and failed to differentiate into continuous strands, causing a disorganized xylem. Analysis of phenotypes associated with double mutants of eli1 lit (lion's tail), a cell expansion mutant, indicated that the primary defect in eli1 plants may be inappropriate initiation of secondary wall formation and subsequent aberrant lignification of cells caused by altered cell expansion. Related ectopic lignification phenotypes were also observed in other cell expansion mutants, suggesting a mechanism that senses cell size and controls subsequent secondary wall formation. Interactions between eli1 and wol (woodenleg), a mutant altering xylem cell specification, revealed a role for ELI1 in promoting formation of continuous xylem strands, and demonstrated that ELI1 functions during cell elongation zone in the primary root and other tissues.

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