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Shifts in leaf vein density through accelerated vein formation in C₄ Flaveria (Asteraceae)

McKown, Athena D., Dengler, Nancy G.
Annals of botany 2009 v.104 no.6 pp. 1085-1098
Flaveria bidentis, bundle sheath cells, cell division, evolution, leaves, mesophyll, metabolites, photosynthesis, plant veins, xylem
BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Leaf venation in many C₄ species is characterized by high vein density, essential in facilitating rapid intercellular diffusion of C₄ photosynthetic metabolites between different tissues (mesophyll, bundle sheath). Greater vein density has been hypothesized to be an early step in C₄ photosynthesis evolution. Development of C₄ vein patterning is thought to occur from either accelerated or prolonged procambium formation, relative to ground tissue development. METHODS: Cleared and sectioned tissues of phylogenetically basal C₃ Flaveria robusta and more derived C₄ Flaveria bidentis were compared for vein pattern in mature leaves and vein pattern formation in developing leaves. KEY RESULTS: In mature leaves, major vein density did not differ between C₃ and C₄ Flaveria species, whereas minor veins were denser in C₄ species than in C₃ species. The developmental study showed that both major and minor vein patterning in leaves of C₃ and C₄ species were initiated at comparable stages (based on leaf length). An additional vein order in the C₄ species was observed during initiation of the higher order minor veins compared with the C₃ species. In the two species, expansion of bundle sheath and mesophyll cells occurred after vein pattern was complete and xylem differentiation was continuous in minor veins. In addition, mesophyll cells ceased dividing sooner and enlarged less in C₄ species than in C₃ species. CONCLUSIONS: Leaf vein pattern characteristic to C₄ Flaveria was achieved primarily through accelerated and earlier offset of higher order vein formation, rather than other modifications in the timing of vein pattern formation, as compared with C₃ species. Earlier cessation of mesophyll cell division and reduced expansion also contributed to greater vein density in the C₄ species. The relatively late expansion of bundle sheath and mesophyll cells shows that vein patterning precedes ground tissue development in C₄ species.