Effects of sheath tube length on leaf development in perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.)

I. A. Casey, A. J. Brereton, A. S. Laidlaw, D. A. McGilloway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Position in and contribution of leaf laminae to the canopy of forage grasses are important both in determining herbage growth rates and intake rate by grazing animals. These canopy characteristics are controlled by the way dry matter is apportioned between sheath and lamina in growing leaves. The objective of this work was to determine how the development of individual leaves is affected by altering the effective length of the psuedostem tube, on the assumption that the light environment within the tube varied. The development of a leaf from initiation at the apex to maturity was followed by successive destructive dissections of tillers. Vertical incisions were made in the pseudostem of each tiller to three different depths. The three treatments imposed were - no incision (control), moderate and severe incision of the sheath length. Destructive harvests of tillers followed 3, 6, 12 and 24 days after imposition of treatments. Incision resulted in the length of the monitored leaf being reduced significantly at all harvests, and differentiation of the sheath beginning earlier. The length reduction reflected a reduction in both cell size and cell number and the effects were evident at the earliest harvest. The data support the theory that leaf size and timing of onset of sheath development are influenced by the environment of the developing leaf. The present results indicate that sheath tube length affects leaf development and suggests that the effects are substantially explained by a direct light effect on the location and depth of the elongation zone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-257
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Applied Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Defoliation
  • Lamina
  • Leaf
  • Lolium perenne L.
  • Ryegrass
  • Sheath


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