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Mechanisms of stomatal development: an evolutionary view

Anne Vatén12 and Dominique C Bergmann13*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, 94305-5020, USA

2 Institute of Biotechnology/Department of Bio and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, FIN-00014, Finland

3 Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Stanford, USA

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EvoDevo 2012, 3:11  doi:10.1186/2041-9139-3-11

Published: 12 June 2012


Plant development has a significant postembryonic phase that is guided heavily by interactions between the plant and the outside environment. This interplay is particularly evident in the development, pattern and function of stomata, epidermal pores on the aerial surfaces of land plants. Stomata have been found in fossils dating from more than 400 million years ago. Strikingly, the morphology of the individual stomatal complex is largely unchanged, but the sizes, numbers and arrangements of stomata and their surrounding cells have diversified tremendously. In many plants, stomata arise from specialized and transient stem-cell like compartments on the leaf. Studies in the flowering plant Arabidopsis thaliana have established a basic molecular framework for the acquisition of cell fate and generation of cell polarity in these compartments, as well as describing some of the key signals and receptors required to produce stomata in organized patterns and in environmentally optimized numbers. Here we present parallel analyses of stomatal developmental pathways at morphological and molecular levels and describe the innovations made by particular clades of plants.

Stomata; Plant evolution; bHLH transcription factors; Arabidopsis; Maize; Physcomitrella; Rice; Ligand receptor signaling; Cell polarity; Asymmetric cell division