1 June 2018
Sainsbury Laboratory and Centre for Mathematical Sciences
University of Cambridge
Most of the leaves we see around us are approximately flat. There are obvious advantages for light collection in having flat leaves. What developmental mechanisms ensure that leaves are flat? Data from Arabidopsis leaves  show that growth is fairly isotropic, i.e small regions expand equally in all directions. Mathematically speaking, we can think of flat leaves as planar regions, and maps of the plane that are isotropic are called conformal maps. There is a well developed theory of conformal maps, which provides a useful tool for interpreting the data on leaf growth , and allows one to make inferences about underlying developmental mechanisms.
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