Send to

Choose Destination
Trends Plant Sci. 2009 Jan;14(1):5-12. doi: 10.1016/j.tplants.2008.10.008. Epub 2008 Dec 11.

Megaphylls, microphylls and the evolution of leaf development.

Author information

Department of Biological Sciences, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA 95521, USA.


Originally coined to emphasize morphological differences, 'microphyll' and 'megaphyll' became synonymous with the idea that vascular plant leaves are not homologous. Although it is now accepted that leaves evolved independently in several euphyllophyte lineages, 'megaphyll' has grown to reflect another type of homology, that of euphyllophyte leaf precursor structures. However, evidence from the fossil record and developmental pathways fails to indicate homology and suggests homoplasy of precursor structures. Thus, as I discuss here, 'megaphyll' should be abandoned because it perpetuates an unsupported idea of homology, leading to misconceptions that pervade plant biology thinking and can bias hypothesis and inference in developmental and phylogenetic studies. Alternative definitions are needed that are based on development and phylogeny for different independently evolved leaf types.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center