Leaf shape: genetic controls and environmental factors
Open Access | Published: 1 August 2005
National Institute for Basic Biology/Okazaki Institute for Integrated Bioscience, Myodaiji-cho, Okazaki, Japan, Graduate University for Advanced Studies, Hayama, Kanagawa, Japan and Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan
In recent years, many genes have been identified that are involved in the developmental processes of leaf morphogenesis. Here, I review the mechanisms of leaf shape control in a model plant, Arabidopsis thaliana, focusing on genes that fulfill special roles in leaf development. The lateral, two-dimensional expansion of leaf blades is highly dependent on the determination of the dorsoventrality of the primordia, a defining characteristic of leaves. Having a determinate fate is also a characteristic feature of leaves and is controlled by many factors. Lateral expansion is not only controlled by general regulators of cell cycling, but also by the multi-level regulation of meristematic activities, e.g., specific control of cell proliferation in the leaf-length direction, in leaf margins and in parenchymatous cells. In collaboration with the polarized control of leaf cell elongation, these redundant and specialized regulating systems for cell cycling in leaf lamina may realize the elegantly smooth, flat structure of leaves. The unified, flat shape of leaves is also dependent on the fine integration of cell proliferation and cell enlargement. Interestingly, while a decrease in the number of cells in leaf primordia can trigger a cell volume increase, an increase in the number of cells does not trigger a cell volume decrease. This phenomenon is termed «compensation» and suggests the existence of some systems for integration between cell cycling and cell enlargement in leaf primordia via cell-cell communication. The environmental adjustment of leaf expansion to light conditions and gravity is also summarized.