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J Exp Bot. 2001 Jun;52(359):1259-68.

The elongation rate at the base of a maize leaf shows an invariant pattern during both the steady-state elongation and the establishment of the elongation zone.

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  • 1Laboratoire d'Ecophysiologie des Plantes sous Stress Environnementaux, INRA, ENSAM, 34060 Montpellier, France.


Spatial and temporal analyses of elongation and cell length of monocotyledon leaves have most often been performed during the period when leaves are visible and elongate at a constant rate (steady-state). In the present study, the focus was on the earlier stages, during the establishment of the elongation zone. Regardless of leaf development stage, the segment located between 0 and 35 mm from the leaf insertion point had a relative elongation rate that increased with distance from insertion point ('accelerating zone') while the segment located further than 35 mm had a relative elongation rate that decreased ('decelerating zone'). This stable pattern held for both young, non-emerged leaves, where it was restricted to the portion corresponding to the length of the blade, and for leaves during steady-state elongation. In the same way, the profile of cell length was essentially the same during early development and during steady-state elongation. The results of a temporal analysis of whole-leaf elongation rate, carried out in the field and in the greenhouse at different light intensities were consistent with a time-invariant pattern of elongation. Whole-leaf relative elongation rate increased with time until the leaf reached 30-40 mm length (although at different leaf ages depending on conditions), and declined afterwards. These results suggest that the patterns governing the elongation rate of a sector of a maize leaf are independent of the leaf developmental stage but depend on sector position only.

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