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Cellular Autonomy and Totipotency

Cellular Autonomy (Cell as self contained units)

All the cellular activities are integrated for the survival of organisms, yet the cells are independent in carrying out the fundamental life processes. They act as autonomous units.

The following activities shows the independence of the cells.

  1. It carries out anabolic process and build new structure.
  2. It can prepare and store food by itself.
  3. It can respire and exchange gases in surroundings.
  4. It can reproduce daughter cells with similar hereditary characters.
  5. It can build new components from macromolecules for the growth and replacement of worn out cells.
  6. It has its own life span.
  7. It maintains the internal physio-chemical condition necessary by itself.

Cellular Totipotency

The ability of living nucleated vegetative cell to differentiate into any types of cell and thus form the complete organism is known as cellular totipotency.

The concept of cellular totipotency was given by German Botanist, Barberlandt (1902).

Steward's experiment on Cellular totipotency

F. C. steward and his co-workers -- in late 1950s.

The experiment:

  1. Steward and his co-workers took small pieces from phloem tissue of carrot roots composed of matured non-dividing cells.
  2. They put these cells in a liquid nutrient medium having coconut milk.
  3. By gently shaking the medium, the cell cluster became free from one another.
  4. Some of them multiplied and formed rooting clumps.
  5. Cell clusters were transferred to culture tube containing a semi-solid medium if the same composition.
  6. By this new plant was formed. The newly developed plant were transferred into pots and developed into a flowering plant.


It proves that, even the mature cell that is differentiated cell when separated from the plant body and provided with suitable environment can dedifferentiate, divide, dedifferentiate and give rise to a new individual.

Edited by: Rabin Kalikote