INTRODUCTION Cell differentiation requires that undifferentiated cells first be selected before becoming committed to a specific fate. The selection of precursor cells often is coordinated so that mature differentiated cells are distributed in a characteristic pattern. One of the simplest possible patterns in tissues is that in which a minimum distance is maintained between differentiated cells in a two-dimensional sheet of cells (Wolpert, 1971). Such a pattern could be created by several different mechanisms. For example, the initial positioning of precursor cells could be random within a field of equally competent cells, with adjacent cells subsequently prevented from assuming the precursor cell fate by lateral inhibition. Alternatively, a prepatterning could exist so that the selection or placement of the precursor cells is nonrandom. Regardless of how precursor cells are placed, the production of new cells from a precursor cell can also contribute to the final spacing pattern (Sachs, 1978). Although the molecular interactions guiding patterning are known for such model systems as epidermal bristle formation in Drosophila (Ghysen et al., 1993), little is known about the nature of the intercellular signaling that establishes cell patterning in plants (see Clark, 1997; Kerstetter and Hake, 1997; Laux and JÃ¼rgens, 1997;
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