Leaf-Shape Control

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Science  19 Dec 2008:
Vol. 322, Issue 5909, pp. 1753
DOI: 10.1126/science.322.5909.1753h

Each plant leaf emerges from a single primordium, but the shape of the resulting leaves can range from a simple oval to a complex formation of subdivisions—leaflets, with edges that can be lobed or serrated. Blein et al. (p. 1835) looked at the molecular controls guiding leaf development. The NAM/CUC (NO APICAL MERISTEM/CUP-SHAPED COTYLEDON) genes, which function as transcription factors involved in establishing boundaries, were cloned from a variety of plants and their expression patterns manipulated. Across a wide range of different plants, localized expression of the NAM/CUC genes in leaflet primordia was required for the formation of subdivided leaves, and reductions in these boundary gene expression levels generated fewer and fused leaflets.

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