A common developmental program can produce diverse leaf shapes

The plethora of diverse leaf shapes results from variations of shared molecular mechanisms that govern leaf growth and development. To better understand the molecular underpinnings of diverse leaf morphologies, Runions et al. constructed a computational model of leaf development that included multiple parameters from prior inferences, molecular data and previous computational models. Factoring in mathematical representations of actively growing leaves, the action of morphogens such as CUS2, PIN1 and auxin at leaf margins, and the contribution of the vascular system into the computational model, the authors were able to construct a model that accurately reflects a diverse array of leaf morphologies. The authors propose that patterns of leaf development emerge from a self-organizing process that is characterized by several feed-back loops; by slightly tweaking the self-organizing process, the authors were able to produce drastically distinct leaf shapes. Future directions include factoring in detailed multi-scale analysis of actively growing leaves and including curved and folded leaves. (Summary by Tyra McCray) New Phytol. 10.1111/nph.14449