Control of stomatal aperture: a renaissance of the old guard

Plant Signal Behav. 2011 Sep;6(9):1305-11. doi: 10.4161/psb.6.9.16425.


Stomata, functionally specialized small pores on the surfaces of leaves, regulate the flow of gases in and out of plants. The pore is opened by an increase in osmotic pressure in the guard cells, resulting in the uptake of water. The subsequent increase in cell volume inflates the guard cell and culminates with the opening of the pore. Although guard cells can be regarded as one of the most thoroughly investigated cell types, our knowledge of the signaling pathways which regulate guard cell function remains fragmented. Recent research in guard cells has led to several new hypotheses, however, it is still a matter of debate as to whether guard cells function autonomously or are subject to regulation by their neighboring mesophyll cells.This review synthesizes what is known about the mechanisms and genes critical for modulating stomatal movement. Recent progress on the regulation of guard cell function is reviewed here including the involvement of environmental signals such as light, the concentration of atmospheric CO2 and endogenous plant hormones. In addition we re-evaluate the important role of organic acids such as malate and fumarate play in guard cell metabolism in this process.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Carbon Dioxide / metabolism
  • Fumarates / metabolism
  • Light
  • Malates / metabolism
  • Plant Stomata / metabolism*
  • Plant Stomata / radiation effects
  • Signal Transduction / radiation effects


  • Fumarates
  • Malates
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • malic acid
  • fumaric acid