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Spatial and temporal variability of xylan distribution in differentiating secondary xylem of hybrid aspen


Xylans occupy approximately one-third of the cell wall components in hardwoods and their chemical structures are well understood. However, the microdistribution of xylans (O-acetyl-4-O-methylglucuronoxylans, AcGXs) in the cell wall and their correlation with functional properties of cells in hardwood xylem is poorly understood. We demonstrate here the spatial and temporal distribution of xylans in secondary xylem cells of hybrid aspen using immunolocalization with LM10 and LM11 antibodies. Xylan labeling was detected earliest in fibers at the cell corner of the S1 layer, and then later in vessels and ray cells respectively. Fibers showed a heterogeneous labeling pattern in the mature cell wall with stronger labeling of low substituted xylans (lsAcGXs) in the outer than inner cell wall. In contrast, vessels showed uniform labeling in the mature cell wall with stronger labeling of lsAcGXs than fibers. Xylan labeling in ray cells was detected much later than that in fibers and vessels, but was also detected at the beginning of secondary cell wall formation as in fibers and vessels with uniform labeling in the cell wall regardless of developmental stage. Interestingly, pit membranes including fiber–, vessel– and ray–vessel pits showed strong labeling of highly substituted xylans (hsAcGXs) during differentiation, although this labeling gradually disappeared during pit maturation. Together our observations indicate that there are temporal and spatial variations of xylan deposition and chemical structure of xylans between cells in aspen xylem. Differences in xylan localization between aspen (hardwood) and cedar (softwood) are also discussed.

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G lignin:

Guaiacyl lignin


Highly substituted O-acetyl-4-O-methylglucuronoxylans


Intercellular layer


Low substituted O-acetyl-4-O-methylglucuronoxylans


Middle lamella cell corner


Protective layer


Primary cell wall

S lignin:

Syringyl lignin


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The authors gratefully acknowledge funding provided by the Formas FuncFiber Center of Excellence (

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Correspondence to Geoffrey Daniel.

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Kim, J.S., Sandquist, D., Sundberg, B. et al. Spatial and temporal variability of xylan distribution in differentiating secondary xylem of hybrid aspen. Planta 235, 1315–1330 (2012).

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  • Aspen
  • Immunolocalization
  • LM10 and LM11 antibodies
  • Populus
  • Xylan
  • Xylem development