Maize leaves are organized into two major domains along the proximal-distal axis: a broad flat blade at the distal end of the leaf, and a narrow, thickened sheath that encircles the stem. Between the blade and sheath are two wedge-shaped tissues called auricles, and the ligule, an epidermally derived fringe. Members of the Knotted1 (Kn1) family of mutations change the shape and position of both ligule and auricle, thus disturbing the overall pattern of the leaf. Here we present the results of a mosaic analysis of Gnarley1-R (Gn1-R), which like members of the Kn1 family, affects the ligule and auricle. Gn1-R is distinct, however, in altering the dimensions of cells that make up sheath tissue. To gain insight into the Gn1-R phenotype, we performed a mosaic analysis using X-ray induced chromosome breakage to generate wild-type (gn1+/−) sectors in otherwise Gn1-R leaves. These sectors allowed us to determine whether Gn1-R acts non-autonomously to influence adjacent cells. Most aspects of the Gn1-R phenotype, such as ligule position, inhibition of auricle development, and sheath thickness showed autonomy in the lateral dimension (leaf width). In contrast, all aspects of the Gn1-R phenotype were non-autonomous in the transverse dimension (leaf thickness), suggesting that signaling occurs between cell layers in the leaf. These results support a model for distinct signaling pathways along lateral versus transverse axes of a developing leaf.

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