, Volume 110, Issue 1, pp 5-14

Effects of ethylene on the orientation of microtubules and cellulose microfibrils of pea epicotyl cells with polylamellate cell walls

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Following a 5 hours ethylene treatment, cortical cells of Pea (Pisum sativum L. var Alaska) epicotyl third internode showed a change in the orientation of both microtubules near the plasma membrane and recently deposited cellulose microfibrils. Control cortical cells had mostly transverse microtubules. The ratio of the average frequency of transverse to longitudinal microtubules was 6.0. After 5 hours of ethylene treatment, cortical cells had mostly longitudinal microtubules, with the ratio of transverse to longitudinal microtubules equal to 0.1. Epidermal cells were more variable than cortical cells with regard to the frequency of longitudinal and transverse microtubules. Observation of cortical cell walls in conventionally stained thin sections revealed that recent deposition of microfibrils had been primarily transverse in almost all of the control cortical cells sampled. In contrast, more than half of the ethylene-treated cortical cells had recent deposition oriented primarily longitudinally. This change in microtubule and microfibril orientation may be early enough to constitute the primary effect of ethylene leading to radial cell expansion.

Research supported by NSF grant PCM 78-03244, A1, 2 to PBG and by a Research Corporation grant to WRE.