Arabidopsis trichomes are single-celled epidermal hairs that serve as a useful model for the study of plant cell differentiation. An examination of the distribution of trichomes early in their development revealed that developing trichomes occur adjacent to another trichome much less frequently than would be expected by chance. Clonal analysis of epidermal cell lineages ruled out a role for cell lineage in generating the observed minimum-distance spacing pattern. Taken together, these results are consistent with a role for lateral inhibition in the control of trichome development. We also report the identification of a new locus, Reduced Trichome Number (RTN), which affects the initiation of trichomes. This locus was initially detected by the reduced number of leaf trichomes on Landsberg erecta plants compared to that on Columbia plants. Quantitative Trait Locus mapping revealed that more than 73% of the variation in trichome number was due to a major locus near erecta on chromosome 2. The reduced number of trichomes conditioned by the Landsberg erecta allele of this locus appeared to be due to an early cessation of trichome initiation. The implications of these observations are discussed with regard to previously published models of trichome development.
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