Plasmodesmata pp 137-148 | Cite as

Quantification of Plant Cell Coupling with Live-Cell Microscopy

  • Johannes Liesche
  • Alexander Schulz
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 1217)


Movement of nutrients and signaling compounds from cell to cell is an essential process for plant growth and development. To understand processes such as carbon allocation, cell communication, and reaction to pathogen attack it is important to know a specific molecule’s capacity to pass a specific cell wall interface. Transport through plasmodesmata, the cell wall channels that directly connect plant cells, is regulated not only by a fixed size exclusion limit, but also by physiological and pathological adaptation. The noninvasive approach described here offers the possibility of precisely determining the plasmodesmata-mediated cell wall permeability for small molecules in living cells.

The method is based on photoactivation of the fluorescent tracer caged fluorescein. Non-fluorescent caged fluorescein is applied to a target tissue, where it is taken up passively into all cells. Imaged by confocal microscopy, loaded tracer is activated by UV illumination in a target cell and its spread to neighboring cells monitored. When combined with high-speed acquisition by resonant scanning or spinning disc confocal microscopy, the high signal-to-noise ratio of photoactivation allows collection of three-dimensional (3D) time series. These contain all necessary functional and anatomical data to measure cell coupling in complex tissues noninvasively.

Key words

Plasmodesmata Live-cell microscopy Fluorescent tracer Diffusion Fluorescein Permeability 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Plant and Environmental SciencesUniversity of CopenhagenFrederiksbergDenmark

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