Control of Plant Organ Size

Abstract

Lateral aerial organs are produced from the primordia initiated in the shoot apical meristem. Early stages of lateral organ growth require cell division and a sharp transition occurs late in development towards a cell expansion‐based growth. A current hypothesis indicates that cytokinin signalling in meristematic cells is downregulated to allow differentiation. Increased local auxin levels promoting growth accompany this event. The later stage coincides with jasmonic acid signalling required for flower maturarion. Within one organism, lateral organs of the same type can change in size and shape during ontogeny, a feature called heteroblasty. The developmental programme leading to final organ size may be modulated by environmental cues including photoperiod, temperature and abiotic stress. These environmental signals are integrated into the morphogenetic programme allowing better adaptation as a result of developmental plasticity.

Key Concepts:

  • Initial growth of lateral organs requires the downregulation of cytokinins allowing morphogenesis and differentiation.

  • Early developmental stages are characterised by cell division, whereas later stages show a rapid transition to growth caused by cell expansion.

  • There seems to be a compensation mechanism at the organ size level allowing increased cell expansion when cell division is compromised and vice versa, giving as a result lower organ size variation.

  • A given species may develop lateral organs differing in size and shape during development, a phenomenon called heteroblasty. A coordination between a basic growth programme and the timing of organ formation seems to be responsible for this phenomenon.

  • Plant organ size is the result of an underlying genetic programme and the interaction with environmental conditions that fine tune the final size of an organ.

Keywords: organ size; proliferation; expansion; Arabidopsis; heteroblasty; auxin; jasmonic acid; miRNA; environment

Figure 1.

An example of genetic control of floral size. (a) A plena mutant and (b) a plena, formosa double mutant. See Delgado‐Benarroch et al. for details.

Figure 2.

A diagram representing different steps in lateral organ growth and some environmental cues that affect lateral organ growth.

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Further Reading

Krizek BA and Anderson JT (2013) Control of flower size. Journal of Experimental Botany 64: 1427–1437.

Tsukaya H (2005) Leaf shape: genetic controls and environmental factors. International Journal of Developmental Biology 49(5–6): 547–555.

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Egea‐Cortines, Marcos, and Weiss, Julia(Sep 2013) Control of Plant Organ Size. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0003363.pub2]