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Cytochemical localization of adenosine triphosphatase in the phloem of Pisum sativum and its relation to the function of transfer cells

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The cytochemical localization of ATPase in differentiating and mature phloem cells of Pisum sativum L. has been studied using a lead precipitation technique. Phloem transfer cells at early stages of differentiation exhibit strong enzyme activity in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and some reaction product is deposited on the vacuolar and plasma membranes. As the phloem transfer cells mature and develop their characteristic wall structures, strong enzyme activity can be observed in association with the plasma membranes and nuclear envelopes. Mature phloem transfer cells with elaborate cell-wall ingrowths show ATPase activity evenly distributed on plasma-membrane surfaces. Differentiating sieve elements show little or no enzyme activity. When sieve elements are fully mature they have reaction product in the parietal and stacked cisternae of the ER. There is no ATPase activity associated with P-protein at any stage of sieve-element differentiation or with the sieve-element plasma membranes. It is suggested that the intensive ATPase activity on the plasma membranes of the transfer cells is evidence for a transport system involved in the active movement of photosynthetic products through these cells.

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endoplasmic reticulum


parenchyma cell




sieve element


sieve-plate pore


transfer cell


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Bentwood, B.J., Cronshaw, J. Cytochemical localization of adenosine triphosphatase in the phloem of Pisum sativum and its relation to the function of transfer cells. Planta 140, 111–120 (1978). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00384909

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Key words

  • ATPase
  • Phloem
  • Pisum
  • Transfer cells (phloem)
  • Translocation (short-distance)