Of puzzles and pavements: a quantitative exploration of leaf epidermal cell shape (bioRxiv)

Arabidopsis plants have epidermal pavement cells (the cells that make up the bulk of the epidermis, other than guard cells or trichomes) that are often described as “jigsaw puzzle” shaped, and, because Arabidopsis is such a useful model organism, we have nice models for how these distinctive shapes are formed. However, are they ubiquitous? Vofely et al. analyzed pavement cells from 278 vascular plant species (ferns, gymnosperms and angiosperms) and found that most species do not show this cell shape; in fact, “most vascular plants have slightly elliptical pavement cells with weakly undulating margins”. This study demonstrates how studies beyond model systems enrich and challenge our understanding of plant science.  (Summary by Mary Williams) bioRxiv 10.1101/361717