Targeted manipulation of leaf form via local growth repression

Plant J. 2011 Jun;66(6):941-52. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-313X.2011.04559.x. Epub 2011 Apr 1.


A classical view is that leaf shape is the result of local promotion of growth linked to cell proliferation. However, an alternative hypothesis is that leaf form is the result of local repression of growth in an otherwise growing system. Here we show that leaf form can indeed be manipulated in a directed fashion by local repression of growth. We show that targeting expression of an inhibitor of a cyclin-dependent kinase (KRP1) to the sinus area of developing leaves of Arabidopsis leads to local growth repression and the formation of organs with extreme lobing, including generation of leaflet-like organs. Directing KRP1 expression to other regions of the leaf using an miRNA target sequence tagging approach also leads to predictable novel leaf forms, and repression of growth in the leaf margin blocks the outgrowth of lobes, leading to a smoother perimeter. In addition, we show that decreased growth around the perimeter and across the leaf abaxial surface leads to a change in 3D form, as predicted by mechanical models of leaf growth. Our analysis provides experimental evidence that local repression of growth influences leaf shape, suggesting that it could be part of the mechanism of morphogenesis in plants in the context of an otherwise growing system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / anatomy & histology
  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis / growth & development
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Enlargement
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor Proteins / genetics
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor Proteins / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Genes, Plant
  • Mesophyll Cells / cytology
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism
  • Morphogenesis
  • Phenotype
  • Plant Epidermis / anatomy & histology
  • Plant Leaves / anatomy & histology*
  • Plant Leaves / growth & development
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / anatomy & histology
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / genetics
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / growth & development


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • CUC2 protein, Arabidopsis
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor Proteins
  • ICK1 protein, Arabidopsis
  • MIRN164 microRNA, Arabidopsis
  • MicroRNAs