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.
The research, published May 15 in the journal Nature Communications, has a range of fundamental implications for global ecology and allows researchers to estimate original leaf sizes from just a fragment of a leaf. This will improve scientists’ prediction and interpretation of climate in the deep past from leaf fossils.
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. (more…)