, Volume 193, Issue 1, pp 181–190

The vacuolar-tubular continuum in living trichomes of chickpea (Cicer arietinum) provides a rapid means of solute delivery from base to tip


    • Department of BotanyStockholm University
  • W. W. Thomson
    • Department of Botany and Plant ScienceUniversity of California

DOI: 10.1007/BF01276644

Cite this article as:
Lazzaro, M.D. & Thomson, W.W. Protoplasma (1996) 193: 181. doi:10.1007/BF01276644


A vacuolar continuum exists from base to tip in the secretory trichomes of chickpea (Cicer arietinum). This continuum is seen in living trichomes which have been labeled with Lucifer yellow CH and examined with confocal microscopy. It encompasses the large vacuole of the lower stalk cell, the vacuoles and tubules of the central stalk cell, the thin tubules of the upper stalk cell, and the tubules and vacuoles of the secretory head cells. The vacuolar-tubular system is structurally distinct within each cell, forming a gradient of large vacuoles in the lower stalk cell, thick tubules in the central stalk cell, and thin anastamozing tubules in the upper stalk cell. This membrane system appears to be continuous between trichome cells, as thin tubules emanate from plasmodesmata between stalk cells and between the upper stalk and lower head cell. In the upper stalk cell, the thin tubules of this continuum are streaming up and down the long axis of the cell at 0.67 μm/s. The larger vacuolar-tubular system in the central and lower stalk cells is also slowly moving, with apparent peristalsis occurring in the central cell. The vacuolar-tubular system of the secretory head cells is completely labeled with Lucifer yellow when the dye has only partly diffused up the long walls of the trichome, indicating that the streaming tubular system delivers solute through the stalk cells to the secretory head cells faster than diffusion through the trichome walls. In the lower head cells, tubules emanate from the plasmodesmata connecting to the upper stalk cell, and these tubules are continuous with the head cell vacuoles. In addition, another layer of thin tubules forms along the edges of the secretory head cells, at the site of exocytotic secretion. We propose that the continuous vacuolar-tubular system in these trichomes functions to rapidly deliver solute from the base of the trichome to the secretory head cells. This system provides a pathway for the transport of secretory material.


Cicer arietinum Confocal microscopy Lucifer yellow CH Plasmodesmata Trichomes Vacuoles

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© Springer-Verlag 1996