Polyamines are ubiquitous polycationic compounds that mediate fundamental aspects of cell growth, differentiation, and cell death in eukaryotic and prokaryotic organisms. In plants, polyamines are implicated in a variety of growth and developmental processes, in addition to abiotic and biotic stress responses. In the last decade, mutant studies conducted predominantly in Arabidopsis thaliana revealed an obligatory requirement for polyamines in zygotic and somatic embryogenesis. Moreover, our appreciation for the intricate spatial and temporal regulation of intracellular polyamine levels has advanced considerably. The exact molecular mechanism(s) through which polyamines exert their physiological response remains somewhat enigmatic and likely serves as a major area for future research efforts. In the following review, we discuss recent advances in the plant polyamine field, which range from metabolism and mutant characterization to molecular genetics and potential mode(s) of polyamine action during growth and development in vitro and in vivo. This review will also focus on the specific role of polyamines during embryogenesis and organogenesis.
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Vol. 44 • No. 5