Department News

2010-03-25

PROF LAWREN SACK'S RECENT PUBLICATION IS A FOCUS IN THIS WEEK'S NATURE JOURNAL "NEWS AND VIEWS"

This week's Nature journal features a commentary on the paper by EEB professor Lawren Sack, with postdoc Athena McKown and collaborator Herve Cochard in the current issue of journal The American Naturalist. The team investigated the leaf venation architecture which is tremendously diverse across plant species. Using sophisticated computer simulations, built up from measurements of real leaf vein anatomy, the team tested the impacts of altering a single feature of the venation at a time, determining the impacts on leaf water transport and the most fundamental growth process, photosynthesis. This work aimed to provide a "Rosetta Stone" for interpreting the evolution of diversity of leaf venation and its impacts on the whole plant function, and to provide tools for researchers working with fossil leaves to extrapolate from their veins clues to how they functioned when they were alive. The Nature article placed the work in the broader context of breakthroughs in plant science that have improved our understanding of the physics of plant function, evolution, and ecosystem science.