, Volume 227, Issue 6, pp 1363–1375 | Cite as

Cortical microtubules mark the mucilage secretion domain of the plasma membrane in Arabidopsis seed coat cells

  • Heather E. McFarlane
  • Robin E. Young
  • Geoffrey O. Wasteneys
  • A. Lacey SamuelsEmail author
Original Article


During their differentiation Arabidopsis thaliana seed coat cells undergo a brief but intense period of secretory activity that leads to dramatic morphological changes. Pectic mucilage is secreted to one domain of the plasma membrane and accumulates under the primary cell wall in a ring-shaped moat around an anticlinal cytoplasmic column. Using cryofixation/transmission electron microscopy and immunofluorescence, the cytoskeletal architecture of seed coat cells was explored, with emphasis on its organization, function and the large amount of pectin secretion at 7 days post-anthesis. The specific domain of the plasma membrane where mucilage secretion is targeted was lined by abundant cortical microtubules while the rest of the cortical cytoplasm contained few microtubules. Actin microfilaments, in contrast, were evenly distributed around the cell. Disruption of the microtubules in the temperature-sensitive mor1-1 mutant affected the eventual release of mucilage from mature seeds but did not appear to alter the targeted secretion of vesicles to the mucilage pocket, the shape of seed coat cells or their secondary cell wall deposition. The concentration of cortical microtubules at the site of high vesicle secretion in the seed coat may utilize the same mechanisms required for the formation of preprophase bands or the bands of microtubules associated with spiral secondary cell wall thickening during protoxylem development.


Arabidopsis thaliana Cortical microtubules mor1-1 Pectin Secretion Seed coat 



Days post-anthesis



The authors acknowledge the technical support of the UBC Bioimaging Facility, Eiko Kawamura and Miki Fujuta. CCRC-M36 antibodies were the kind gift of Michael Hahn at the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center, Athens, GA, USA. Tamara Western and Colin McLeod provided constructive comments on the manuscript. Funding, in the form of Canadian Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Discovery Grants to A.L. Samuels and G.O. Wasteneys and a summer NSERC USRA to H.E. McFarlane, is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heather E. McFarlane
    • 1
  • Robin E. Young
    • 1
  • Geoffrey O. Wasteneys
    • 1
  • A. Lacey Samuels
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of BotanyUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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