Elastic stresses may play a crucial role in determining a leaf's venation pattern, according to a joint Argentinian-French study published April 11th in the open-access journal PLoS Computational Biology. The researchers have developed a model that reproduces statistical properties of venation patterns, based on the assumption that cells can suffer abrupt elastic distortions during growth. These distortions appear due to the elastic stresses generated by the unequal growth rate of different leaf tissues.
Leaf veins are the channels that conduct substances within the leaf and lend support to the leaf tissue. The accepted view of vein formation claims that the transport of the hormone auxin triggers cell differentiation to form veins. Although auxin plays a fundamental role in vein formation, there are important features of the leaf vascular system which remain unexplained. In particular, flux of auxin would produce a tree-like branched vein pattern, reminiscent of a river network, while real venation patterns are highly interconnected, more akin to a crack pattern in mud or paint.
These facts led Fabiana Laguna, Steffen Bohn, and Eduardo Jagla to further analyze a previously-proposed hypothesis that elastic stresses play an important role in leaf venation. To test whether this hypothesis could sustain a quantitative comparison with actual venation patterns, they developed and implemented a numerical model, and found simulated patterns with statistical properties similar to natural ones.
The full explanation for the development of veins could involve both elastic stresses and the influence of auxin, the authors say. They believe that their study could trigger further experimental work to test the relevance of elastic stresses in vein formation.
PLEASE ADD THIS LINK TO THE PUBLISHED ARTICLE IN ONLINE VERSIONS OF YOUR REPORT: http://www.ploscompbiol.org/doi/pcbi.1000055 (link will go live on Friday, April 11)
CITATION: Laguna MF, Bohn S, Jagla EA (2008) The Role of Elastic Stresses on Leaf Venation Morphogenesis. PLoS Comput Biol 4(4): e1000055. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000055
Dr. Maria Fabiana Laguna
Centro Atomico Bariloche
This press release refers to an upcoming article in PLoS Computational Biology. The release is provided by the article authors. Any opinions expressed in this release or article are the personal views of the journal staff and/or article contributors, and do not necessarily represent the views or policies of PLoS. PLoS expressly disclaims any and all warranties and liability in connection with the information found in the releases and articles and your use of such information.
About PLoS Computational Biology
PLoS Computational Biology (www.ploscompbiol.org) features works of exceptional significance that further our understanding of living systems at all scales through the application of computational methods. All works published in PLoS Computational Biology are open access. Everything is immediately available subject only to the condition that the original authorship and source are properly attributed. Copyright is retained by the authors. The Public Library of Science uses the Creative Commons Attribution License.
About the Public Library of Science
The Public Library of Science (PLoS) is a non-profit organization of scientists and physicians committed to making the world's scientific and medical literature a freely available public resource. For more information, visit http://www.plos.org.
AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert! system.