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Abnormal structure of protophloem sieve-element cell wall in colchicine-treated roots of Triticum aestivum L.

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The structural aberrations of the cell walls of protophloem sieve elements (PSEs) in roots of wheat (Triticum aestivum L. cv. Maris Huntsman) caused by the anti-microtubule drug colchicine were investigated by electron microscopy. The initial effect of the drug on cell wall development was found to be an exceptionally rough wall surface, presumably caused by an uncontrolled fusion of Golgi vesicles with the plasma membrane. Cellulose microfibrils, which in normal PSEs are aligned transversely to the long axis and parallel to the cortical microtubules, in colchicine-treated PSEs display a predominant longitudinal orientation. The pattern of wall development is disturbed by deposition of wall material also within the sieve pores of the sieve-pore/plasmodesmata complexes, resulting in evenly thickened walls instead of the normal uneven layers, and in narrowing the sieve pores to the size of plasmodesmata. In prolonged and continuous colchicine treatment, PSEs develop unusual wall ingrowths projecting deeply into the cytoplasm, creating an extraordinary cell type not found in normal roots. The results confirm the view of microtubule involvement in the proper deposition and orientation of cellulose microfibrils, and in the normal patterning of the cell wall thickenings of differentiating PSEs.

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protophloem sieve element


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The author is grateful to Dr. B. Galatis, Dr. P. Apostolakos and Dr. C. Katsaros, Institute of General Botany, University of Athens, Greece, for helpful discussions and suggestions, and for the generous gift of the colchicine used here. This work was carried out in the Department of Botany, University of Thessaloniki, Greece, while observations were also made in the Lehrstuhl für Zellenlehre, University of Heidelberg, Germany, and in the Department of Botany, University of Georgia, USA. The author is thankful to Prof. E. Schnepf (Zellenlehre, Heidelberg, Germany) and Prof. B.A. Palevitz (Department of Botany, University of Athens, Ga., USA), for generously providing access to their equipment and facilities. The work was financially supported in part by the Stiftung Volkswagenwerk and by the Research Committee, University of Thessaloniki (No 7537).

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Eleftheriou, E.P. Abnormal structure of protophloem sieve-element cell wall in colchicine-treated roots of Triticum aestivum L.. Planta 193, 266–274 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00192540

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Key words

  • Colchicine
  • Cell wall (ingrowths)
  • Microfibril
  • Microtubule
  • Protophloem sieve element
  • Triticum