Encasement in plant morphology

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Title Encasement in plant morphology: an integrative approach from genes to organisms
Author(s) Christian R. Lacroix, Bernard Jeune, Denis Barabe
Journal Canadian Journal of Botany
Date 2005
Volume 83
Issue 1
Start page 1207
End page 1221
Abstract Recent advances in molecular genetics are prompting developmental plant morphologists to refine the theoretical context of their field. For example, at the level of the action of certain developmental genes, the distinction between recognized structural categories (i.e., stem and leaf) are not obvious. This issue has also been analyzed by morphologists from qualitative and quantitative perspectives and has lead to similar conclusions. Consequently, the classical approach to morphology with a typological view of organ categories is no longer sufficient to explain the set of all possible forms. However, within the context of a dynamic morphology, where processes of development such as growth rate, duration, and distribution are considered, a more encompassing view of the generation of form can be achieved. We therefore propose that classical morphology is a subset of dynamic morphology. The main goal of this paper is to show how new concepts and methods of viewing plant morphology allow us to build a conceptual theoretical framework that may have a predictive value with respect to morphological characteristics as well as molecular properties of organs. The main premise of this commentary, within the context of dynamic morphology, is that the plant consists of an encasement of structures or a nesting of partially similar units. Common developmental processes are in operation at each structural level and variations in the modalities of these processes lead to the development of specific structures. Repeating polymorphic sets (RPS) represent an extension of this perspective on plant development and have the potential to predict the existence of new, perhaps unknown forms. The idea of repeating polymorphic sets can also be extended to outline the activity of specific developmental genes to explain how a wide variety of those genes are interrelated during development to specify form.
DOI 10.1139/b05-101

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