Control of organ size in plants

Curr Biol. 2012 May 8;22(9):R360-7. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2012.02.010. Epub 2012 May 7.


The size of plant organs, such as leaves and flowers, is determined by an interaction of genotype and environmental influences. Organ growth occurs through the two successive processes of cell proliferation followed by cell expansion. A number of genes influencing either or both of these processes and thus contributing to the control of final organ size have been identified in the last decade. Although the overall picture of the genetic regulation of organ size remains fragmentary, two transcription factor/microRNA-based genetic pathways are emerging in the control of cell proliferation. However, despite this progress, fundamental questions remain unanswered, such as the problem of how the size of a growing organ could be monitored to determine the appropriate time for terminating growth. While genetic analysis will undoubtedly continue to advance our knowledge about size control in plants, a deeper understanding of this and other basic questions will require including advanced live-imaging and mathematical modeling, as impressively demonstrated by some recent examples. This should ultimately allow the comparison of the mechanisms underlying size control in plants and in animals to extract common principles and lineage-specific solutions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Plant Physiological Phenomena*