Organ Shape and Size: A Lesson From Studies of Leaf Morphogenesis

Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2003 Feb;6(1):57-62. doi: 10.1016/s1369526602000055.


Control of the shape and size of indeterminate organs, such as roots and stems, is directly related to the control of the shape and size of the cells in these organs, as predicted by orthodox cell theory. For example, the polarity-dependent growth of leaf cells directly affects the polar expansion of leaves. Thus, the control of leaf shape is related to the control of the shape of cells within the leaf, as suggested by cell theory. By contrast, in determinate organs, such as leaves, the number of cells does not necessarily reflect organ shape or size. Genetic evidence shows that a compensatory system(s) is involved in leaf morphogenesis, and that an increase in cell volume can be triggered by a decrease in cell number and vice versa. Studies of chimeric leaves also suggest interaction between leaf cells that coordinates the behaviour of these cells at the organ level. Moreover, leaf size also appears to be coordinated at the whole-plant level. The recently hypothesised neo cell theory describes how leaf shape- and size-control mechanisms control leaf shape at the organ-level via cell-cell interaction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / anatomy & histology
  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / growth & development*
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Division / physiology
  • Cell Size / physiology
  • Morphogenesis / physiology
  • Plant Leaves / anatomy & histology
  • Plant Leaves / genetics
  • Plant Leaves / growth & development*
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / physiology