Our latest research published today in Nature Communications has used X-ray CT imaging to quantify the complex structure of the air space inside plant leafs linked measurement of gas exchange. The work led by Professor Andrew Fleming at the The University of Sheffield contributes to the understanding of the formation of leaf stomata and mesophyll air space which may aid future development of crops with improved water use efficiency that would be more resilient to drought conditons.
Mesophyll porosity is modulated by the presence of functional stomata
Lungren, M. et al. Nature Communications. Volume 10, Article number: 2825 (2019)
The formation of stomata and leaf mesophyll airspace must be coordinated to establish an efficient and robust network that facilitates gas exchange for photosynthesis, however the mechanism by which this coordinated development occurs remains unclear. Here, we combine microCT and gas exchange analyses with measures of stomatal size and patterning in a range of wild, domesticated and transgenic lines of wheat and Arabidopsis to show that mesophyll airspace formation is linked to stomatal function in both monocots and eudicots. Our results support the hypothesis that gas flux via stomatal pores influences the degree and spatial patterning of mesophyll airspace formation, and indicate that this relationship has been selected for during the evolution of modern wheat. We propose that the coordination of stomata and mesophyll airspace pattern underpins water use efficiency in crops, providing a target for future improvement.
Press release: https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/news/x-ray-vision-how-plants-breathe
Posted on Thursday 27th June 2019