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J Plant Growth Regul. 2000 Mar;19(1):45-54.

Co-Ordination of Cell Division and Tissue Expansion in Sunflower, Tobacco, and Pea Leaves: Dependence or Independence of Both Processes?

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Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique-Ecole Nationale Supérieure Agronomique de Montpellier, Laboratoire d'Ecophysiologie des Plantes sous Stress Environnementaux, 2 Place Viala, 34060 Montpellier, France


Temporal analyses of cell division and tissue expansion in pea, tobacco, and sunflower leaves reveal that both processes follow similar patterns during leaf development. Relative cell division and relative tissue expansion rates are maximal and constant during early leaf development, but they decline later. In contrast, relative cell expansion rate follows a bell-shaped curve during leaf growth. Cell division and tissue expansion have common responses to temperature, intercepted radiation, and water deficit. As a consequence, final leaf area and cell number remain highly correlated throughout a large range of environmental conditions for these different plant species, indicating that cell division and tissue expansion are co-ordinated during leaf development. This co-ordination between processes has long been explained by dependence between both processes. Most studies on dicotyledonous leaf development indicate that leaf expansion rate depends on the number of cells in the leaf. We tested this hypothesis with a large range of environmental conditions and different plant species. Accordingly, we found a strong correlation between both absolute leaf expansion rate and leaf cell number. However, we showed that this relationship is not necessarily causal because it can be simulated by the hypothesis of independence between cell division and tissue expansion according to Green's theory of growth (1976).


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