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J Exp Bot. 2012 Jul;63(12):4563-70. doi: 10.1093/jxb/ers142. Epub 2012 Jun 8.

Variation in vein density and mesophyll cell architecture in a rice deletion mutant population.

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Plant and Crop Sciences Division, School of Biosciences, University of Nottingham, Sutton Bonington Campus, Loughborough LE12 5RD, UK.


There is a need to develop rice plants with improved photosynthetic capacity and efficiency in order to enhance potential grain yield. Alterations in internal leaf morphology may be needed to underpin some of these improvements. One target is the production of a 'Kranz-like' anatomy, commonly considered to be required to achieve the desired levels of photosynthesis seen in C(4) crops. Kranz anatomy typically has two or three mesophyll cells interspersing adjacent veins. As a first step to determining the potential for such anatomical modifications in rice leaves, a population of rice deletion mutants was analysed for alterations in vein patterning and mesophyll cells in the interveinal regions. Significant variation is demonstrated in vein arrangement and the sequential distribution of major and minor veins across the leaf width, although there is a significant correlation between the total number of veins present and the width of the leaf. Thus the potential is demonstrated for modifying rice leaf structure. Six distinct rice mutant lines, termed altered leaf morphology (alm) mutants, were analysed for the architecture of their interveinal mesophyll cell arrangement. It is shown that in these mutant lines, the distance between adjacent minor veins and adjacent minor and major veins is essentially determined by the size of the interveinal mesophyll cells rather than changes in mesophyll cell number across this region, and hence interveinal distance changes as a result of cell expansion rather than cell division. This observation will be important when developing screens for traits relevant for the introduction of Kranz anatomy into rice.

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