Epidermis differentiation and maintenance are essential for plant survival. Constant cross-talk between epidermal cells and their immediate environment is at the heart of epidermal cell fate, and regulates epidermis-specific transcription factors. These factors in turn direct epidermal differentiation involving a whole array of epidermis-specific pathways including specialized lipid metabolism necessary to build the protective cuticle layer. An intact epidermis is crucial for certain key processes in plant development, shoot growth and plant defence. Here, we discuss the control of epidermal cell fate and the function of the epidermal cell layer in the light of recent advances in the field.
© 2010 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2010 New Phytologist Trust.