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Mechanical constraints on lignin deposition during lignification

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The ultrastructure of lignifying cell walls in Pinus radiata D.Don was investigated using potassium permanganate staining and transmission electron microscopy. Lignin deposition occurred at numerous discrete sites within various cell wall regions, suggesting the presence of some initiating agent at these sites. In the middle lamella region, lignin deposition occurred by addition of protolignin monomers to spherical particles of lignin. Lignification was completed by expansion of these spherical particles, initially forming irregular patterns of lignification followed by infilling of adjacent areas. In contrast, lignification in the secondary wall occurred by deposition of protolignin monomers onto the ends of expanding lignin lamellae between cellulose microfibrils leading to greatly elongated patches of lignin due to the greater rate of deposition along the microfibril axis compared to that across it. It is concluded that the cellulose matrix in which lignin deposition occurs, in the secondary wall, can exert a mechanical influence which limits the rate of lignin deposition in the direction perpendicular to the microfibril axis.

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Donaldson, L.A. Mechanical constraints on lignin deposition during lignification. Wood Sci.Technol. 28, 111–118 (1994).

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  • Cellulose
  • Lignin
  • Spherical Particle
  • Permanganate
  • Secondary Wall