Cytokinins in Plants: Function & Concept

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  • 0:00 What Are Cytokinins?
  • 0:55 Function
  • 2:06 Synthetic Cytokinins
  • 2:23 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Derrick Arrington

Derrick has taught biology and chemistry at both the high school and college level. He has a master's degree in science education.

Plants rely on hormones for many of their life processes just like humans. In this lesson, we will examine a group of hormones known as cytokinins to see how plants use them.

What Are Cytokinins?

Cytokinins are a group of hormones that promote cell division in plant roots and shoots and the growth of buds. These hormones have been found in all complex plants as well as mosses, fungi, and bacteria. There are about 200 different natural and synthetic cytokinins known to botanists today.

Most cytokinins are produced in the meristem of the roots. Meristem is the name for a region of tissue within the plant that actively promotes cell division. In other words, the meristem is any place that's still growing (like the tip of the roots or the top of the stem).

Once the cytokinin has been produced in the roots, it travels up the xylem, or vascular tissue, to other parts of the plant where continued growth takes place (such as young leaves, developing fruits, and seeds).


Cytokinins increase cell division by stimulating the production of proteins needed for mitosis. Mitosis is non-sexual cell division that occurs in all living things producing additional cells for body growth.

In your body, mitosis is occurring every day, replacing dead and damaged cells and allowing for growth. If you skin your knee, it's mitosis that grows back the cells you lost.

In plants, mitosis creates additional cells that make the plants grow. If you have ever played with building blocks that snap together, you can think of them like plant cells. Every time the process of mitosis occurs, a new cell is formed and moved to the end of the plant making it longer or taller (just like adding a building block to your structure).

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