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Abstract Detail

Anatomy and Morphology

Borsuk, Aleca [1], Roddy, Adam [2], Theroux-Rancourt, Guillaume [3], Brodersen, Craig [4].

Emergent honeycomb topology of the leaf spongy mesophyll.

Plant leaves are typically composed of two layers of photosynthetic tissue, the palisade and spongy mesophyll. While the palisade mesophyll is formed by columnar cells, the structure of the spongy mesophyll is less understood and often treated as irregular or random. Here, we characterized the two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) structure of the spongy mesophyll in laminar leaves with reticulate venation from 40 species and 30 genera including every major clade of terrestrial vascular plants. Species with small cells, high cell packing densities, and close vein spacing conformed to the irregular model, a morphology associated with high surface-area-to-volume ratios and maximum photosynthetic rates. However, in most species, lobed spongy mesophyll cells with variable geometries gave rise to an emergent, ordered structure with the topological properties of a honeycomb. This honeycomb structure, conserved among disparate groups such as ferns, gymnosperms, and angiosperms, was governed by a simple set of allometric scaling laws. Our study calls for a revised understanding of leaf construction that opens the door to more spatially sophisticated explorations of leaf development, economics, physiology, and biomechanics.

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1 - Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, 370 Prospect Street, Greeley Memorial Laboratory, New Haven, Connecticut, 06511, United States
2 - Yale University, Forestry & Environmental Studies, 370 Prospect St, New Haven, CT, 06511, United States
3 - University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU Wien), Institute of Botany, Austria
4 - Yale University, School Of Forestry & Environmental Studies, 195 Prospect Street, Kroon Hall, New Haven, CT, 06511, United States


Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: TBA
Location: /
Date: Thursday, January 1st, 1970
Time: TBA
Abstract ID:312
Candidate for Awards:Katherine Esau Award,Maynard F. Moseley Award

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