Three-dimensional patterns of cell division and expansion throughout the development of Arabidopsis thaliana leaves

J Exp Bot. 2014 Dec;65(22):6385-97. doi: 10.1093/jxb/eru358. Epub 2014 Sep 9.


Variations in size and shape of multicellular organs depend on spatio-temporal regulation of cell division and expansion. Here, cell division and expansion rates were quantified relative to the three spatial axes in the first leaf pair of Arabidopsis thaliana. The results show striking differences in expansion rates: the expansion rate in the petiole is higher than in the leaf blade; expansion rates in the lateral direction are higher than longitudinal rates between 5 and 10 days after stratification, but become equal at later stages of leaf blade development; and anticlinal expansion co-occurs with, but is an order of magnitude slower than periclinal expansion. Anticlinal expansion rates also differed greatly between tissues: the highest rates occurred in the spongy mesophyll and the lowest in the epidermis. Cell division rates were higher and continued for longer in the epidermis compared with the palisade mesophyll, causing a larger increase of palisade than epidermal cell area over the course of leaf development. The cellular dynamics underlying the effect of shading on petiole length and leaf thickness were then investigated. Low light reduced leaf expansion rates, which was partly compensated by increased duration of the growth phase. Inversely, shading enhanced expansion rates in the petiole, so that the blade to petiole ratio was reduced by 50%. Low light reduced leaf thickness by inhibiting anticlinal cell expansion rates. This effect on cell expansion was preceded by an effect on cell division, leading to one less layer of palisade cells. The two effects could be uncoupled by shifting plants to contrasting light conditions immediately after germination. This extended kinematic analysis maps the spatial and temporal heterogeneity of cell division and expansion, providing a framework for further research to understand the molecular regulatory mechanisms involved.

Keywords: Anisotropy; Arabidopsis thaliana; cell division; cell expansion; kinematic analysis; leaf development; morphology; shading..

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / cytology*
  • Arabidopsis / growth & development*
  • Arabidopsis / radiation effects
  • Cell Division* / radiation effects
  • Cell Proliferation / radiation effects
  • Light
  • Organ Specificity / radiation effects
  • Plant Leaves / anatomy & histology
  • Plant Leaves / cytology*
  • Plant Leaves / growth & development*
  • Plant Leaves / radiation effects