Embracing 3D Complexity in Leaf Carbon–Water Exchange

J.M. Earles, Thomas N. Buckley, Craig R. Brodersen, Florian A. Busch, F.J. Cano, Brendan Choat, John R. Evans, Graham D. Farquhar, Richard Harwood, Minh Huynh, Grace P. John, Megan L. Miller, Fulton E. Rockwell, Lawren Sack, Christine Scoffoni, Paul C. Struik, Alex Wu, Xinyou Yin, Margaret M. Barbour*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Leaves are a nexus for the exchange of water, carbon, and energy between terrestrial plants and the atmosphere. Research in recent decades has highlighted the critical importance of the underlying biophysical and anatomical determinants of CO2 and H2O transport, but a quantitative understanding of how detailed 3D leaf anatomy mediates within-leaf transport has been hindered by the lack of a consensus framework for analyzing or simulating transport and its spatial and temporal dynamics realistically, and by the difficulty of measuring within-leaf transport at the appropriate scales. We discuss how recent technological advancements now make a spatially explicit 3D leaf analysis possible, through new imaging and modeling tools that will allow us to address long-standing questions related to plant carbon–water exchange.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-24
JournalTrends in Plant Science
Issue number1
Early online date9 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • 3D
  • leaf anatomy
  • leaf hydraulic conductance
  • mesophyll conductance
  • photosynthesis

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