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Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2009 Feb;12(1):9-16. doi: 10.1016/j.pbi.2008.11.001. Epub 2008 Dec 26.

Leaf development: time to turn over a new leaf?

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División de Genética and Instituto de Bioingeniería, Universidad Miguel Hernández, Campus de Elche, Elche, Alicante, Spain.


Molecular cloning of mutations affecting the morphology of plant leaves has proven to be useful for the causal analysis of leaf development. Studies of leaf mutants have produced a wealth of biologically meaningful information on the genes that participate in leaf initiation, leaf polarity specification and maintenance, and leaf expansion and maturation. The availability of collections of gene-indexed insertional mutants, automated platforms for high-throughput imaging, and new morphometry software is making genome-wide leaf phenomics possible and complements classical forward genetics approaches. Large-scale phenomic studies will further our understanding, among others, of two intriguing phenomena that recently reentered the leaf scenario. One is the unexpected relationship between translation and leaf dorsoventrality, recently confirmed by the severe abaxialization of double mutants involving loss-of-function alleles of the developmental selector genes AS1 and AS2 and some genes encoding ribosomal proteins. The second unexplained phenomenon is the compensatory cell enlargement experienced by some leaf mutants, in which a reduced cell number is compensated by their increased cell size compared with the wild type. This compensation suggests that cell cycling and cell enlargement are integrated in leaf primordia via cell-to-cell communication.

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