Death of Lionel Clowes (1921-2016) – the discoverer of the Quiescent Centre

It is with great sadness that we heard that Frederick Albert Lionel Clowes died last week aged 95. Lionel was a Lecturer in the Department of Plant Sciences from 1949 until 1969 and then Reader until his retirement in 1988. Lionel was an emeritus Reader until his death.

Lionel discovered the quiescent centre of roots in the early 1950s. This discovery transformed the way we think about stem cells and self-renewing cells in plants. Using static, histological images he predicted that there was a group of slowly dividing cells at the core of the root meristem. He then tested this hypothesis by determining rates of replication and cell division in meristems. He was one of the few people who could make accurate dynamic interpretations of the behaviour of cells in dividing meristems.

Lionel made huge contributions to our understanding of the development of plants. His scientific legacy is enormous.

See recent article by Joseph Dubrovsky and Peter Barlow on the discovery of the quiescent centre.