Looking beyond the gene network - metabolic and mechanical cell drivers of leaf morphogenesis

J Cell Sci. 2022 Apr 15;135(8):jcs259611. doi: 10.1242/jcs.259611. Epub 2022 Apr 19.


The above-ground organs in plants display a rich diversity, yet they grow to characteristic sizes and shapes. Organ morphogenesis progresses through a sequence of key events, which are robustly executed spatiotemporally as an emerging property of intrinsic molecular networks while adapting to various environmental cues. This Review focuses on the multiscale control of leaf morphogenesis. Beyond the list of known genetic determinants underlying leaf growth and shape, we focus instead on the emerging novel mechanisms of metabolic and biomechanical regulations that coordinate plant cell growth non-cell-autonomously. This reveals how metabolism and mechanics are not solely passive outcomes of genetic regulation but play instructive roles in leaf morphogenesis. Such an integrative view also extends to fluctuating environmental cues and evolutionary adaptation. This synthesis calls for a more balanced view on morphogenesis, where shapes are considered from the standpoints of geometry, genetics, energy and mechanics, and as emerging properties of the cellular expression of these different properties.

Keywords: Biomechanics; Cell wall; Leaf morphogenesis; Mechanical feedback; Metabolism; Proprioception.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Gene Regulatory Networks*
  • Morphogenesis / genetics
  • Plant Cells / physiology
  • Plant Development* / genetics
  • Plant Leaves / genetics
  • Plants / genetics