The control of leaf development


  • Andrew J. Fleming

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK
      Author for correspondence:
      Andrew J. Fleming Tel: +44 114 2224830 Fax: +44 114 2220002 Email:
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Author for correspondence:
Andrew J. Fleming Tel: +44 114 2224830 Fax: +44 114 2220002 Email:



  •  Summary 1

  • I.  Introduction 1
  • II. The shoot apical meristem: the creation of a field of cells from which leaves can be formed 2
  • III. Patterning: the selection of leaf initiation site 2
  • IV. Morphogenesis: the initial stages of leaf formation 4
  • V. Differentiation and determination: transcriptional networks controlling determinancy 6
  • VI. The elaboration of leaf form 6
  • VII. Early steps in leaf histogenesis 7
  • VIII. Later steps in leaf differentiation: epidermal cell fate 8
  • IX. Compound and simple leaves: variation on a theme? 9
  • X. Changes in leaf form: developmental and environmental influences 9
  • XI. A model of leaf formation 9
  •  Acknowledgements 10

  •  References 10


The formation of a leaf is a basic aspect of plant development. This review provides an overview of our present understanding of the process from initiation to the final form of the leaf. Molecular genetic and cell biology approaches have yielded significant advances in this area, adding not only to our knowledge of leaf development but also to fundamental principles in plant biology. These principles will be highlighted, as well as areas where our understanding is still incomplete, in particular the problem of coordinating the multifaceted steps involved in the generation of the leaf structure.