, 224:1141 | Cite as

Raman imaging to investigate ultrastructure and composition of plant cell walls: distribution of lignin and cellulose in black spruce wood (Picea mariana)

  • Umesh P. Agarwal
Original Article


A detailed understanding of the structural organization of the cell wall of vascular plants is important from both the perspectives of plant biology and chemistry and of commercial utilization. A state-of-the-art 633-nm laser-based confocal Raman microscope was used to determine the distribution of cell wall components in the cross section of black spruce wood in situ. Chemical information from morphologically distinct cell wall regions was obtained and Raman images of lignin and cellulose spatial distribution were generated. While cell corner (CC) lignin concentration was the highest on average, lignin concentration in compound middle lamella (CmL) was not significantly different from that in secondary wall (S2 and S2–S3). Images generated using the 1,650 cm−1 band showed that coniferaldehyde and coniferyl alcohol distribution followed that of lignin and no particular cell wall layer/region was therefore enriched in the ethylenic residue. In contrast, cellulose distribution showed the opposite pattern—low concentration in CC and CmL and high in S2 regions. Nevertheless, cellulose concentration varied significantly in some areas, and concentrations of both lignin and cellulose were high in other areas. Though intensity maps of lignin and cellulose distributions are currently interpreted solely in terms of concentration differences, the effect of orientation needs to be carefully considered to reveal the organization of the wood cell wall.


Black spruce Cell wall Cellulose Lignin Microscopy Raman imaging 



The author thanks the following staff of the Forest Products Laboratory for their contributions to this work: Karen Berton, preparation of Fig. 1; Tom Kuster, preparation of microtomed sections; and Jim Beecher and Carl Houtman, helpful comments on the draft of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Forest Products LaboratoryUSDA Forest ServiceMadisonUSA

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