The phyllosphere is the microbial habitat extending from the surface of the cuticle covering the leaf epidermis to the outer edge of the boundary layer surrounding the leaf and inward into the leaf tissues.

Keywords: leaf surface; plant pathogens; microbial ecology; cuticle; island biogeography

Figure 1.

Schematic representation of the major components of the phyllosphere habitat depicted in cross‐section. The boundary layer around the leaf may be several millimetres thick, leading to marked differences in environmental conditions between the phyllosphere and the ambient air. Epidermal cells are covered by a cuticle, which is the first point of contact between microorganisms and the leaf surface proper. The phyllosphere has topographical features such as leaf hairs, glandular trichomes and stomata (depicted here), as well as junctions of epidermal cells, grooves over leaf veins and hydathodes, some of which are favourable sites for microbial colonization. Stomata, hydathodes, wounds and other openings in the leaf allow passage of microorganisms between the inner and outer domains of the phyllosphere. The features depicted in this schema have been drawn to scale.

Figure 2.

Scanning electron micrograph of the abaxial surface of a leaf of cantaloupe (Cucumis melo). Leaf hairs, stomata and junctions between epidermal cells are evident. Bar, 100 μm.



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Further Reading

Andrews JH and Hirano SS (eds) (1991) Microbial Ecology of Leaves. New York: Springer‐Verlag.

Blakeman JP (ed.) (1981) Microbial Ecology of the Phylloplane. New York: Academic Press.

Dickinson CH and Preece TF (eds) (1976) Microbiology of Aerial Plant Surfaces. New York: Academic Press.

Fokkema NJ and van den Heuval JE (eds) (1986) Microbiology of the Phylloplane. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kerstiens G (ed.) (1996) Plant Cuticles. Oxford: Bios Scientific Publishers.

Lindow SE, Poinar E and Elliot V (eds) (2002) Phyllosphere Microbiology. St Paul, MN: American Phytopathological Press.

Morris CE, Nicot PC and Nguyen‐the CE (eds) (1996) Aerial Plant Surface Microbiology. New York: Plenum Press.

Preece TF and Dickinson CH (eds) (1971) Ecology of Leaf Surface Micro‐organisms. New York: Academic Press.

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How to Cite close
Morris, Cindy E(Mar 2002) Phyllosphere. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0000400]