On genes and form.

The mechanisms by which organisms acquire their sizes and shapes through growth was a major focus of D'Arcy Thompson's book On Growth and Form. By applying mathematical and physical principles to a range of biological forms, Thompson achieved fresh insights, such as the notion that diverse biological shapes could be related through simple deformations of a coordinate system. However, Thompson considered genetics to lie outside the scope of his work, even though genetics was a growing discipline at the time the book was published. Here, we review how recent advances in cell, developmental, evolutionary and computational biology allow Thompson's ideas to be integrated with genes and the processes they influence to provide a deeper understanding of growth and morphogenesis. We consider how genes interact with subcellular-, cellular- and tissue-level processes in plants to yield patterns of growth that underlie the developmental and evolutionary shape transformations Thompson so eloquently described.