ABSTRACT Leaves expand to intercept light for photosynthesis, to take up carbon dioxide, and to transpire water for cooling and circulation. The extent to which they expand is determined partly by genetic constraints, and partly by environmental conditions signalling the plant to expand more or less leaf surface area. Leaves have evolved sophisticated sensory mechanisms for detecting these cues and responding with their own growth and function as well as influencing a variety of whole‐plant behaviours. Leaf expansion itself is an integrating behaviour that ultimately determines canopy development and function, allocation of materials determining relative shoot : root volume, and the onset of reproduction. To understand leaf development, and in particular, how leaf expansion is regulated, we must know at the molecular level which biochemical processes accomplish cell growth. Physiological experimentation focusing on ion fluxes across the plasmamembrane is providing new molecular information on how light stimulates cell expansion in some dicotyledonous species. Genetic analyses in Arabidopsis, corn, and other species are rapidly generating a list of mutations and enzyme activities associated with leaf development and expansion. Combination of these approaches, using informed physiological interpretations of phenotypic variation will allow us in the future to identify genes encoding both the processes causing cell expansion, and the regulators of these events.
Plant Cell & Environment – Wiley
Published: Dec 1, 1999
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