We tested Charlton’s hypothesis (1990) that stomata are present and patterned in linear cell aggregations using the monocot Tradescantia.
We examined the following features of the leaf epidermis in support of this theory: linear groups (strings) of stomatal complexes and of epidermal cells were sought in immature and mature regions of entire leaves; the lengths (in cell number) and incidences (numerical occurrence) of both string types were determined; the uniformity and progression of stomatal differentiation within strings were studied; physical characteristics of differentiating strings within cell files were measured.
Undifferentiated epidermal cells from the leaf base were stained with DAPI to reveal precursors of stomatal strings immediately proximal to the stomatal initial region.
The results indicated that the Tradescantia epidermis in the leaf blade consists of linear groups of stomata and epidermal cells, which did not change in cell number nor incidence during development. The incidence of stomata by length was nonrandom.
Although incidence decreased with string length, the decline was not linear nor exponential. Stomatal strings show cell cycle synchrony in DAPI staining of stomatal precursors and synchrony of stomatal differentiation within a string.
The irregularity in the length of the stomatal development region, and each differentiation stage in it, by cell file was consistent with the variation in string length and unity in string development.
The evidence supports Charlton’s hypothesis that cells are patterned based on their position in the cell cycle and that linear groups of stomata reflect cell lineages, which maintain a degree of cell cycle synchrony.