Apical Dominance – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Botanical Terms Glossary

What is Apical Dominance?

Apical dominance is a phenomenon in plants where the growth of the main, central stem (apical meristem) is favored over the growth of lateral branches or buds. This results in the plant having a dominant main stem with fewer lateral branches. The apical meristem is located at the tip of the main stem and is responsible for the plant’s vertical growth.

How does Apical Dominance work?

Apical dominance is regulated by plant hormones, primarily auxin. Auxin is produced in the apical meristem and is transported downwards to inhibit the growth of lateral buds. This inhibition occurs through a process called apical dominance, where auxin suppresses the growth of lateral buds by inhibiting their development and elongation.

What are the factors that influence Apical Dominance?

Several factors can influence apical dominance in plants. These include the concentration of auxin in the apical meristem, the distance between the apical meristem and lateral buds, the age of the plant, and environmental factors such as light and temperature. High levels of auxin and a greater distance between the apical meristem and lateral buds tend to promote apical dominance.

How is Apical Dominance important in plant growth and development?

Apical dominance plays a crucial role in shaping the overall growth and development of plants. By favoring the growth of the main stem over lateral branches, apical dominance helps plants to grow vertically and reach for sunlight. This vertical growth is essential for plants to compete for light and resources in their environment.

What are the practical implications of Apical Dominance in gardening and agriculture?

In gardening and agriculture, understanding and manipulating apical dominance can have significant practical implications. For example, pruning the apical meristem of a plant can promote the growth of lateral branches, resulting in a bushier plant with more flowers or fruit. This technique is commonly used in fruit tree cultivation to increase yield and improve fruit quality.

How can Apical Dominance be manipulated or controlled in plants?

Apical dominance can be manipulated or controlled in plants through various techniques. One common method is pruning, where the apical meristem is removed to encourage the growth of lateral branches. This technique is often used in ornamental plants to create a more compact and bushy appearance. Additionally, the application of plant growth regulators such as cytokinins can also help to reduce apical dominance and promote lateral bud growth. By understanding and manipulating apical dominance, gardeners and farmers can optimize plant growth and achieve desired outcomes in their crops.