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Plant Cell. 2010 Jul;22(7):2141-55. doi: 10.1105/tpc.110.076927. Epub 2010 Jul 20.

Genetic framework for flattened leaf blade formation in unifacial leaves of Juncus prismatocarpus.

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National Institute for Basic Biology, Okazaki, Aichi, 444-8585 Japan.


Angiosperm leaves generally develop as bifacial structures with distinct adaxial and abaxial identities. However, several monocot species, such as iris and leek, develop unifacial leaves, in which leaf blades have only abaxial identity. In bifacial leaves, adaxial-abaxial polarity is required for leaf blade flattening, whereas many unifacial leaves become flattened despite their leaf blades being abaxialized. Here, we investigate the mechanisms underlying the development and evolution of flattened leaf blades in unifacial leaves. We demonstrate that the unifacial leaf blade is abaxialized at the gene expression level and that an ortholog of the DROOPING LEAF (DL) gene may promote flattening of the unifacial leaf blade. In two closely related Juncus species, Juncus prismatocarpus, which has flattened unifacial leaves, and Juncus wallichianus, which has cylindrical unifacial leaves, DL expression levels and patterns correlate with the degree of laminar outgrowth. Genetic and expression studies using interspecific hybrids of the two species reveal that the DL locus from J. prismatocarpus flattens the unifacial leaf blade and expresses higher amounts of DL transcript than does that from J. wallichianus. We also show that leaf blade flattening is a trigger for central-marginal leaf polarity differentiation. We suggest that flattened unifacial leaf blades may have evolved via the recruitment of DL function, which plays a similar cellular but distinct phenotypic role in monocot bifacial leaves.

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