Protein metabolism of vegetative storage organs

  • H. S. McKee
Part of the Handbuch der Pflanzenphysiologie / Encyclopedia of Plant Physiology book series (532, volume 8)


The vegetative storage organs of plants are structures of very varied morphological nature. Almost any part of the vegetative plant body can act as a storage organ for reserve materials permitting the plant to survive periods of unfavourable conditions. The majority of highly developed storage organs are derived from stems, which in many cases are plagiotropic and grow underground. Such underground stems or rhizomes vary greatly in the extent to which they are adapted to storage. In such species as Ammophila arenaria or Carex arenaria the rhizome differs from the runners of the strawberry (Fragaria vesca) or of Ranunculus repens only in its underground growth. It is a thin rapidly growing wiry organ which spreads the plant and reproduces it vegetatively, but performs only a subsidiary storage function. The plants of another group, e. g. Aegopodium podagraria, Mercurialis perennis and various species of Mentha, produce long rapidly growing and narrow but rather fleshy rhizomes which are somewhat better adapted to storage than those of the first group. Finally there are short thick fleshy rhizomes whose main function is the storage of food reserves over a season unfavourable for plant growth. Perennial rhizomes of this type are familiar in such species as Iris germanica, Polygonatum multiflorum, Zantedeschia aethiopica and Nymphaea alba; similar annual rhizomes are also known.


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