A new study led by scientists at The University of Sheffield's Institute for
Sustainable Food has discovered how plants create networks of air channels,
the lungs of the leaf, to transport carbon dioxide (CO2) to their cells.
The scientists used genetic manipulation techniques to reveal that when
plants have more stomata, it forms more airspace. The channels act like
bronchioles - the tiny passages that carry air to the exchange surfaces of
human and animal lungs. In collaboration with colleagues at the University
of Nottingham and Lancaster University, the team showed that the movement of
CO2 through the pores most likely determines the shape and scale of the air
The study also shows that wheat plants have been bred to have few pores on
their leaves and fewer air channels, which make wheat leaves denser and
allows them to be grown with less water.