Plant Biology

Leaf Production Plant

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Science  14 Mar 2008:
Vol. 319, Issue 5869, pp. 1459
DOI: 10.1126/science.319.5869.1459c

Leaf epidermis, usually a single layer of cells, negotiates the balance between environmental factors and internal physiology. Leaf epidermal cells synthesize a wax that serves as a protective surface barrier and also synthesize a variety of complex metabolites important in plant defense. Leaves of the Madagascar periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus), long known as an herbal medicine, synthesize the alkaloids vinblastine and vincristine, which have valuable anticancer activities. In the search for other useful alkaloids or metabolites, Murata et al. have exploited RNA analysis of the leaf epidermis. C. roseus epidermis is rich in a variety of biosynthetic pathways, including those for flavonoids, lipids, and pentacyclic triterpenes. Analysis of RNAs expressed in leaf epidermis revealed much more complexity of the biochemistry occurring in leaves than did similar analytic approaches using broader tissue samples of the plant. The diversity of biosynthetic pathways represented in the leaf epidermis, combined with the variable destinations of the products, makes this single layer of cells look like the busiest of production and distribution centers. PJH

Plant Cell 10.1105/tpc.107.056630 (2008).

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