Effects of nitrogen deprivation on cell division and expansion in leaves of Ricinus communis L.

U Roggatz, A J S McDonald, I Stadenberg, U Schurr

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The effects of nitrogen deprivation on leaf extension, cell numbers and epidermal cell size were followed in leaves of Ricinus communis L. The extent to which reductions in final cell number or final epidermal cell size contributed to the reduction in final leaf size depended on the developmental stage of the leaf at the time of N deprivation. In leaves which already had their full complement of cells (leaf 2), the reduction in final leaf size following nitrogen deprivation was associated with a reduction in final cell size. In leaves that were at earlier stages of development at the onset of N deprivation (leaves 3 and 4), the reduction in final leaf size was greater than in leaf 2. In these younger leaves, the final cell size was even smaller than in leaf 2, but the greatest contribution to reduced final leaf size was a reduction in the number of cells produced. This accounted for approximately 80% of the reduction in final leaf size in leaf 4. During leaf development, the contribution from different tissue layers to the total cell number changed. In the smallest leaf sizes, the contribution from upper and lower epidermis and spongy parenchyma was greater than that from palisade parenchyma. As the leaf size increased, cells in the palisade parenchyma continued to divide for longer than in the other layers. At final leaf size, the contribution from the different tissue layers to total cell number was the same for leaves 2, 3 and 4, irrespective of N treatment. In these final leaf structures, palisade parenchyma contributed 60% of the total cell number. Thus, although nitrogen deprivation affected leaf size variously through cell division and cell expansion, depending on leaf developmental stage at the time of nitrogen deprivation, the ratio of cell numbers and sizes in different tissue layers, at final leaf size, was unaffected.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-89
Number of pages9
JournalPlant, Cell & Environment
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1999


  • Ricinus communis
  • cell division
  • cell expansion
  • epidermis
  • leaf growth
  • nitrogen nutrition
  • tall fescue
  • spatial-distribution
  • alternating light
  • plant nutrition
  • salix-viminalis
  • batch growth
  • leaf-cells
  • elongation
  • stress
  • water


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