Quantitative analysis of cell division in leaves: methods, developmental patterns and effects of environmental conditions

  • François Tardieu
  • Christine Granier


In planta quantitative studies of cell cycle are necessary for examining the role of cell division in the response of plants to environmental conditions and to analyse the behaviour of transformed plants in this context. We present and discuss non-intrusive kinematic methods which allow estimating the duration of cell cycle with a high spatial resolution in the leaf. Different methods are proposed and discussed for monocotyledons and dicotyledons, and compared with methods involving the use of chemicals. In monocotyledon leaves, cell division is restricted to a limited zone near the leaf insertion point, twice as long in the mesophyll as in the epidermis. In dicotyledons, cell division occurs in the whole leaf with a uniform and constant cell cycle duration for a determinate number of cell cycles, representing about half of leaf development. Over several experiments, this number is well conserved in a given leaf zone in the absence of stresses, but larger near the leaf base than near the leaf tip. After that, cell cycle duration increases because cells are progressively blocked in G1 while the durations of S-G2-M phases do not change with time. Leaf temperature affects neither the distribution of nuclei in each phase of the cycle nor the number of cell cycles in a leaf. Water or light deficits both cause a partial blockage of nuclei in G1 during the stress only, thereby increasing cell cycle duration and decreasing final cell number. These results suggest that a strong developmental programme drives cell division in leaves, so a simple framework allows analysis of temporal patterns, of spatial gradients and of the effect of environmental conditions.

Key words

cell cycle kinematic analysis leaf development light temperature water deficit 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut National de la Recherche AgronomiqueLaboratoire d’Ecophysiologie des Plantes sous Stress EnvironnementauxMontpellierFrance

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