, Volume 198, Issue 4, pp 572-579

Distribution and frequency of plasmodesmata in relation to photoassimilate pathways and phloem loading in the barley leaf

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Large, intermediate, and small bundles and contiguous tissues of the leaf blade of Hordeum tvulgare L. ‘Morex’ were examined with the transmission electron microscope to determine their cellular composition and the distribution and frequency of the plasmodesmata between the various cell combinations. Plasmodesmata are abundant at the mesophyll/parenchymatous bundle sheath, parenchymatous bundle sheath/mestome sheath, and mestome sheath/vascular parenchyma cell interfaces. Within the bundles, plasmodesmata are also abundant between vascular parenchyma cells, which occupy most of the interface between the sieve tube-companion cell complexes and the mestome sheath. Other vascular parenchyma cells commonly separate the thick-walled sieve tubes from the sieve tube-companion cell complexes. Plasmodesmatal frequencies between all remaining cell combinations of the vascular tissues are very low, even between the thin-walled sieve tubes and their associated companion cells. Both the sieve tube-companion cell complexes and the thick-walled sieve tubes, which lack companion cells, are virtually isolated symplastically from the rest of the leaf. Data on plamodesmatal frequency between protophloem sieve tubes and other cell types in intermediate and large bundles indicate that they (and their associated companion cells, when present) are also isolated symplastically from the rest of the leaf. Collectively, these data indicate that both phloem loading and unloading in the barley leaf involve apoplastic mechanisms.
The authors thank Susan E. Eichhorn for assistance in preparation of the manuscript, including the figures and typing, Dr. Joanne M. Dannenhoffer for Fig. 1., and Kandis Elliot for assistance with graphic design. This study was supported by National Science Foundation Grant No. IBN-9001759 and Grant No. IBN-9320218 to RFE.