Planta

, Volume 210, Issue 6, pp 890–896 | Cite as

A cytoskeletal basis for wood formation in angiosperm trees: the involvement of microfilaments

  • Nigel Chaffey
  • Peter Barlow
  • John Barnett

Abstract.

The cortical microfilament (MF) component of the cytoskeleton within axial elements of the secondary vascular system of the angiosperm tree, Aesculus hippocastanum L. (horse-chestnut) was studied using transmission electron microscopy of ultrathin sections and indirect immunofluorescence microscopy of actin in thick sections. As seen by electron microscopy, MF bundles have a net axial orientation within fusiform cambial cells and their secondary vascular derivatives (i.e. in the axial xylem and phloem parenchyma, xylem fibres, vessel and sieve elements, and companion cells). Immunofluorescence studies, however, reveal that this axial orientation can be more accurately described as a helix of extremely high pitch; it is a persistent feature of all axial secondary vascular elements during their development. Helical MF arrays are the only arrangement seen in secondary phloem cells. However, in addition to helices, other MF arrays are seen in secondary xylem cells. For example, fibres possess ellipses of MFs associated with simple-pit formation, and vessel elements possess circular arrays of MFs that associate with the developing inter-vessel bordered pits, ray–vessel contact pits, and with the perforation plate. Linear MF arrays are seen co-oriented with the developing tertiary wall-thickenings in vessel elements. The possible roles of MFs during the cytodifferentiation of secondary vascular cells is discussed, and compared with that of microtubules.

Key words:Aesculus (horse-chestnut) – Cytodifferentiation – Microfilaments – Secondary vascular tissue – Vascular cambium – Wood 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nigel Chaffey
    • 1
  • Peter Barlow
    • 2
  • John Barnett
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Botany, Plant Science Laboratories, The University of Reading, Whiteknights, PO Box 221, Reading RG6 6AS, UKGB
  2. 2.IACR–Long Ashton Research Station, Department of Agricultural Sciences, University of Bristol, Long Ashton, Bristol BS41 9AF, UKGB

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