UCLA life scientists have discovered new laws that determine the construction of leaf vein systems as leaves grow and evolve. These easy-to-apply mathematical rules can now be used to better predict the climates of the past using the fossil record.
Leaf veins are of tremendous importance in a plant’s life, providing the nutrients and water that leaves need to conduct photosynthesis and supporting them in capturing sunlight. Leaf size is also of great importance for plants’ adaptation to their environment, with smaller leaves being found in drier, sunnier places.
However, little has been known about what determines the architecture of leaf veins. Mathematical linkages between leaf vein systems and leaf size have the potential to explain important natural patterns. The new UCLA research focused on these linkages for plant species distributed around the globe.