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Can a single layer of cells control a leaf's size?
Date:2/25/2010

Ever looked carefully at the leaves on a plant and noticed their various sizes and shapes? Why are they different? What controls the size and shape of each individual leaf? Very little is known about the developmental control of leaf size and shape, and understanding the mechanisms behind this is a major issue in plant biology.

A leaf's size is determined by a combination of cell number, cell size, and intercellular space. Michael Marcotrigiano from Smith College, Massachusetts, wanted to find out what role cell layers played in regulating leaf size and shape. He utilized a powerful toolthe synthesis of graft chimerasthat has allowed him to carefully analyze the developmental regulation of leaf size and shape in Nicotiana and has published his findings in the February issue of the American Journal of Botany (http://www.amjbot.org/cgi/content/full/97/2/224).

By grafting plants of different Nicotiana genotypes Marcotrigiano was able to recover shoots from the graft union that were chimeras. These shoots were composed of both genotypes. Eventually he recovered leaves with two genetically distinct cell layers. He grafted N. tabacum, a large-leaf genotype, and N. glaucum, a small-leaf genotype, to produce leaves where the resulting epidermal cell layer was a different genotype than the mesophyll cell layerbut on only one side of the leaf, allowing for direct comparison of the growth of the leaf from one side to the other. Thus, one side of the leaf could act as a "control" for the other side of the leaf. This enabled him to set up some nicely designed comparisons where on one side of the leaf the outer cell layer (the epidermis) differed in genotype from the rest of the leaf.

"Since leaves generally vary in size along the length of the stem and leaf size is strongly influenced by environmental factors, my method allowed me to compare one side of a leaf to the othe
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Contact: Richard Hund
rhund@botany.org
314-577-9557
American Journal of Botany
Source:Eurekalert  

Page: 1 2 3

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