Plant Differentiation and Development Process

Under biological terms differentiation is the process in which a cell changes from one cell type to another, usually cell changes to a more specialised type. Differentiation occurs several times during development of a multicellular organism as it changes from simple Zygote to a complex system of tissue and cell type. 


Differentiation Process in Plants:

Plants belong to a different kingdom and their process of differentiation and development is also different from other kingdoms. In plants differentiation and development occurs in different ways from Animals. Plant differentiation is the process in which cells of the root system shoot apical meristem and the Cambium mature to perform specific functions.

In a more easy way we can say that cellular differentiation is the process in which a cell changes from one cell type to another.This Change mainly happens to form a more specialized type of cell.

During differentiation processes cells undergo different structural changes both in their cell wall and protoplasm. For example, to form a tracheary element, the cell would lose their protoplasm apart from this they also develop a very strong, elastic and lignocellulosic cell wall, to transport water and minerals under extreme conditions.

It can also be termed as a process in which the different types of cells separate from their precursor cell and become different from each other. There are different types of fundamental cells in plants and all these types of cell are responsible for basic functioning in plants.

Under suitable conditions one kind of cell is transformed into another kind of cell depending on functions.

Advantages of Cell Differentiation:

The main advantage of cell differentiation is that cells become more efficient at a particular task, conserve energy because they have to do that one task, and improve that task faster.

Differentiation illustration :

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Hormonal Influence in Differentiation Process :

Many functions of differentiation are controlled by hormones like Auxin, which plays an important role in the differentiation of vessel elements.Auxin produced by the apical meristem and young leaves above the wound induces Parenchyma cells to regenerate the damaged Vascular tissue.


Meaning: Cells which lose the capacity to divide can regain the capacity of division under different conditions, this phenomenon is termed as dedifferentiation.

Example: Formation of interfascicular and cork cambium from fully differentiated Parenchyma cells.

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The given figure tells us how the protoplast system used to study cellular Dedifferentiation. Differentiated Mesophyll cells respond to the removal of cell walls (cellulose) by undergoing Dedifferentiation, thus becoming pluripotent. At this stage, additional signals determine cell fate:Auxin and Cytokinin induce their reentry into S phase, and Auxin by itself induce Redifferentiation, whereas in the absence of hormone presence cell die.  

Redifferentiation Process:

Under this process, the cells divide and produce cells which one again lose their dividing capacity but get mature to perform specific functions.

Development Process in Plants:

Most plants continue to grow throughout their life, they grow through a combination of cell growth and cell division(mitosis). Development process includes changes that an organism goes through during his life cycle. In plants, it starts with germination of seed and ends by senescence. This process includes steps like:

  1. Cell division: 

  2. Elongation of cell

  3. Differentiation cell

  4. Maturation

Cell division occurs in meristematic tissue of plants due to which elongation process occurs. This cell undergoes differentiation and forms a mature cell which undergoes aging and finally dies. Development process is the sum total of both extrinsic and intrinsic processes, intrinsic factors are genetic and chemical factors and extrinsic factors are sunlight, water, minerals, nutrients, etc.

Types of Plants Growth:

  1. Primary and Secondary Growth: The mitotic division of meristematic cells present at the root and shoot apex increases the length of the plant body. This is called the primary growth. The secondary meristem increases the diameter of the plant body and  it is called secondary growth.

  1. Unlimited Growth: The root and the shoot system of plants grow continuously from germination stage to the death or throughout the lifespan of the plant. It is called the ‘Unlimited’ or ‘indeterminate’ type of growth. 

  1. Limited Growth:  The leaves, fruits and flowers stop growing after attaining a certain size. This is called a ‘limited’ or ‘determinate’ type of growth. 

  1.  Vegetative Growth: The earlier growth of plant producing leaves, stem and branches without flowers is called ‘vegetative growth.

  1. Reproductive Growth: After the vegetative growth, plants produce flowers which are the reproductive part of the plant. This is called reproductive growth.


1. Long day plants produce flowers only when they are exposed to sunlight more than critical periods. 

Eg: Oat and Rye plant.

2. Short day plants produce flowers when they are exposed to sunlight less than critical periods. 

Eg: Coffee and Tobacco.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is the Meaning of Differentiation in Biology?

Under differentiation process cells change from one cell type to another cell type to perform more specialised functions and  for better development and functioning. Differentiation is usually for better functioning of the body so that the body can perform well under different extreme conditions.

2. Define Dedifferentiation in Plants?

Dedifferentiation refers to a cellular process in which a differentiated cell loses its special form of function or back to their earlier development stage. Dedifferentiation involves the epigenetic reprogramming of gene activity to achieve a less differentiated state that allows cells to redifferentiate into their parent cell type.

3. Difference Between Dedifferentiation and Redifferentiation?

  • Dedifferentiation: It is the process of regaining the capacity to divide mitotically by differentiated cells in plants.

  • Less specialised cells become more specialised.

  • Re Differentiation: It is the process of the ability to be separated by a differentiated cell.

  • Specialisation of cells remains the same.

4. What is Meant by the Process of Differentiation?

Differentiation in plants refers to the process under which cells differentiate to perform more specialised functions. Under this process they become progressively more specialised in their functions under different conditions. 

Meristematic cells divide to form all types of cells.

5. Name and Give Function of All Plant Growth Regulators?

1. Growth promoters: Auxin, Gibrallin, Cytokinin

Function : cell division, seed germination, root formation, fruiting and flowering.

2. Growth inhibitor: ethylene and abscisic acid 

Function : induces dormancy of seed, aging process