, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 50-64

Phloem loading and its development related to plant evolution from trees to herbs

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Summary

Minor vein structure in various taxonomic groups was described in a previous paper (Gamalei 1989). Here, these results are used to correlate minor vein structure with plant evolutionary, ecological and growth form schemes. The following pattern emerges: reductive evolution from evergreen trees to annual herbs is accompanied by gradually increasing symplastic isolation of the mesophyll and the phloem. This evolutionary tendency is confirmed by the ecological spreading and life-form distribution of modern plants with different types of minor vein structure. The meaning of this phenomenon is discussed. Chilling sensitivity of plasmodesmal translocation is considered to be the main reason. It is suggested that phloem loading for assimilate transport is double-routed. The symplastic route is more ancient and more economical for loading. The apoplastic pathway becomes the main or the only route under unfavorable conditions. The existence of a symplast/apoplast regulatory loading mechanism is suggested. The two loading routes differ in their selectivity for products of photosynthesis which changes their symplast/apoplast ratio which, in turn, determines the composition of the sieve tube exudate. The latter will influence growth and morphogenesis. Correlated changes of structure and function related to photosynthesis, loading, translocation and growth, are analysed with respect to life-form evolution. The influence of the pathway of loading on other processes is discussed.