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Mechanism for formation of the secondary wall thickening in tracheary elements: Microtubules and microfibrils of tracheary elements of Pisum sativum L. and Commelina communis L. and the effects of amiprophosmethyl

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Arrangements of microfibrils (MFs) and microtubules (MTs) were examined in tracheary elements (TEs) of Pisum sativum L. and Commelina communis L. by production of replicas of cryo-sections, and by immunofluorescence microscopy, respectively. The secondary wall thickenings of TEs of Pisum and Commelina roots have pitted and latticed patterns, respectively. Most MFs in the pitted thickening of Pisum TEs retain a parallel alignment as they pass around the periphery of pits. However, some groups of MFs grow into the pits but then terminate at the edge of the thickening, indicating that cellulose-synthase complexes are inactivated in the plasma membrane under the pit. Microtubules of TEs of both Pisum and Commelina are localized under the secondary thickening and few MTs are detected in the areas between wall thickenings. In the presence of the MT-disrupting agent, amiprophosmethyl, cellulose and hemicellulose, which is specific to secondary thickening, are deposited in deformed patterns in TEs of Pisum roots, Pisum epicotyls and Commelina roots. This indicates that the localized deposition of hemicellulose as well as cellulose involves MTs. The deformed, but heterogeneous pattern of secondary thickening is still visible, indicating that MTs are involved in determining and maintaining the regular patterns of the secondary thickening but not the spatial heterogeneous pattern of the wall deposition. A working hypothesis for the formation of the secondary thickening is proposed.

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dimethyl sulfoxide


fluorescein-conjugated wheat-germ agglutinin

M F:







tracheary element


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I thank Ms. Aiko Hirata (Institute of Applied Microbiology, University of Tokyo, Japan) for help in taking stereomicrographs. This work was supported in part by a Grant-in-Aid from the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture of Japan.

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Hogetsu, T. Mechanism for formation of the secondary wall thickening in tracheary elements: Microtubules and microfibrils of tracheary elements of Pisum sativum L. and Commelina communis L. and the effects of amiprophosmethyl. Planta 185, 190–200 (1991). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00194060

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Key words

  • Amiprophosmethyl
  • Commelina
  • Microfibril
  • Microtubule
  • Pisum (secondary wall thickening)
  • Secondary wall thickening
  • Tracheary element