Induction of Leaf Primordia by the Cell Wall Protein Expansin

Science  30 May 1997:
Vol. 276, Issue 5317, pp. 1415-1418
DOI: 10.1126/science.276.5317.1415

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Expansins are extracellular proteins that increase plant cell wall extensibility in vitro. Beads loaded with purified expansin induced bulging on the leaf-generating organ, the apical meristem, of tomato plants. Some of these bulges underwent morphogenesis to produce leaflike structures, resulting in a reversal of the direction of phyllotaxis. Thus, expansin can induce tissue expansion in vivo, and localized control of tissue expansion may be sufficient to induce leaf formation. These results suggest a role for biophysical forces in the regulation of plant development.

  • * Present address: Institute of Plant Sciences, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule–Zürich, CH-8092 Zürich, Switzerland.

  • To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: kuhlemeier{at}

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