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No cell is an island: characterising the leaf epidermis using EPIDERMALMORPH, a new R package


Brown, MJM and Jordan, GJ, No cell is an island: characterising the leaf epidermis using EPIDERMALMORPH, a new R package, New Phytologist, 237, (1) pp. 354-366. ISSN 1469-8137 (2022) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Statement

2022 The Authors, New Phytologist 2022 New Phytologist Foundation. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons License, Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0).

DOI: doi:10.1111/nph.18519


The leaf epidermis is the interface between a plant and its environment. The epidermis is highly variable in morphology, with links to both phylogeny and environment, and this diversity is relevant to several fields, including physiology, functional traits, palaeobotany, taxonomy and developmental biology.Describing and measuring leaf epidermal traits remains challenging. Current approaches are either extremely labour-intensive and not feasible for large studies or limited to measurements of individual cells. Here, we present a method to characterise individual cell size, shape (including the effect of neighbouring cells) and arrangement from light microscope images. We provide the first automated characterisation of cell arrangement (from traced images) as well as multiple new shape characteristics. We have implemented this method in an R package, epidermalmorph, and provide an example workflow using this package, which includes functions to evaluate trait reliability and optimal sampling effort for any given group of plants. We demonstrate that our new metrics of cell shape are independent of gross cell shape, unlike existing metrics. epidermalmorph provides a broadly applicable method for quantifying epidermal traits that we hope can be used to disentangle the fundamental relationships between form and function in the leaf epidermis.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:cell arrangement, cell shape, epidermal cells, R package, stomatal morphology.
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Evolutionary biology
Research Field:Plant and fungus systematics and taxonomy
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences
UTAS Author:Brown, MJM (Ms Matilda Brown)
UTAS Author:Jordan, GJ (Professor Greg Jordan)
ID Code:154471
Year Published:2022
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (DP160100809)
Web of Science® Times Cited:1
Deposited By:Plant Science
Deposited On:2022-12-02
Last Modified:2023-01-16

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