A conceptual framework for maize leaf development

Dev Biol. 1992 Sep;153(1):44-58. doi: 10.1016/0012-1606(92)90090-4.


What is and is not known about the maize leaf is reviewed. Analysis of genetic mosaics and direct observation with the SEM have broken leaf development into three distinct phases: recruitment of cells within the meristem, cell division into the 0.6-mm tall primordium, and postprimordial division and differentiation into the mature leaf. New data are presented that imply that cell division rates in the leaf are coordinated by inductive signals from the internal cells. Leaf cells that tend to divide more are held in check by slower growing neighbors; this complicates the search for developmental compartments. Experiments with recessive mutants that remove the ligule and auricle have been important in identifying an inducer signal with the specific meaning "make ligule-auricle." We have studied many dominant mutant alleles at seven different genes. Each mutant alters the position of the ligule boundary. We conclude the following. First, the mutants act in particular domains of the primordium. Second, the dominant mutants all move the ligule boundary in the same direction. Third, the mutants all retard developmental stage transitions. Fourth, three and probably four of the seven genes for which dominant mutants have been studied specify homeodomain proteins in the wrong place. The concept of "maturation schedule" is used to explain these data. All of the dominant mutant phenotypes are seen as consequences of immature cells being in the wrong place when inductive signals pass through the leaf. Several specific questions of leaf development and especially questions as to source of inductive signals or homologies among juvenile and adult organ parts are recast in light of this "maturation schedule" hypothesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Embryonic Induction
  • Morphogenesis
  • Zea mays / embryology
  • Zea mays / growth & development*