Behind the Cover: New Phytologist 221:1, January 2019
What do leaf surface cells look like?
A recent study by Vofeley, Gallagher et al. aimed to uncover the diversity of cell shapes seen on leaf surfaces across land plants.
The survey of 278 plant species revealed a wide diversity of cell shapes, a sample of which can be seen in the cover image for New Phytologist 221:1. Using plants sampled from two living plant collections, the team peeled the surface layer of cells from leaves and imaged them using light microscopy. Cells were then hand-traced from these images and used for mathematical analysis of shape, a process called ‘morphometrics’ from the Greek morphe (shape) and metria (measurement).
— Siobhan Braybrook (@BraybrookSA) October 16, 2018
Morphometrics allows researchers to proscribe numbers to shape allowing them to compare shape quantitatively as opposed to using descriptive, qualitative, comparisons (e.g. longer, fatter, rounder, or wiggly-er). Without these images, and the quantification of shape, the team would have had a difficult time comparing cell shapes across plant species.
Read more about this paper in a blog post by Zoe Nemec Venza.
Read the paper: Vőfély, R. V., Gallagher, J., Pisano, G. D., Bartlett, M. and Braybrook, S. A. (2019) Of puzzles and pavements: a quantitative exploration of leaf epidermal cell shape. New Phytologist 221: 540-552. doi: 10.1111/nph.15461