Research Highlights

How plants make the most of the sun ~ Leaves become thicker under more intense light ~

Rina Hoshino, Yuki Yoshida, and Hirokazu Tsukaya
“Multiple steps of leaf thickening during sun-leaf formation in Arabidopsis”
The Plant Journal: July 26, 2019


Editors’ Choice “Light tuning of leaf size”
Science, vol. 366, issue 6461, pp. 69, October 4, 2019


Plants must absorb light to live, even in a harsh light condition. Tsukaya Group has uncovered how some leaves adapt to intense sun exposure. The research group developed a new technique to observe the inner structure of the small leaves of seedlings. By using the new technique, the research group examined the time course of leaf-thickening growth in detail, and revealed that the leaf thickness is not predetermined before a leaf begins to grow. The cells on the top, sun-exposed side of leaves under high-intensity light developed two layers of stretched-out, tall cells. Eventually, the cells also swelled up. Those leaves were thicker overall than leaves under low-intensity light. Additional experiments using different colors of light and genetically manipulated plants revealed that the cells get taller in response to the blue colored wavelengths of light and swell in response to additional sugar in the form of sucrose. Adaptation of plant leaves to the environment is a key issue to understand natural variation and biodiversity of plants on the Earth. These results may eventually lead to technical advances to improve food crops and forest conservation.


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