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1.  Topochemical distribution of lignin and hydroxycinnamic acids in sugar-cane cell walls and its correlation with the enzymatic hydrolysis of polysaccharides 
Lignin and hemicelluloses are the major components limiting enzyme infiltration into cell walls. Determination of the topochemical distribution of lignin and aromatics in sugar cane might provide important data on the recalcitrance of specific cells. We used cellular ultraviolet (UV) microspectrophotometry (UMSP) to topochemically detect lignin and hydroxycinnamic acids in individual fiber, vessel and parenchyma cell walls of untreated and chlorite-treated sugar cane. Internodes, presenting typical vascular bundles and sucrose-storing parenchyma cells, were divided into rind and pith fractions.
Vascular bundles were more abundant in the rind, whereas parenchyma cells predominated in the pith region. UV measurements of untreated fiber cell walls gave absorbance spectra typical of grass lignin, with a band at 278 nm and a pronounced shoulder at 315 nm, assigned to the presence of hydroxycinnamic acids linked to lignin and/or to arabino-methylglucurono-xylans. The cell walls of vessels had the highest level of lignification, followed by those of fibers and parenchyma. Pith parenchyma cell walls were characterized by very low absorbance values at 278 nm; however, a distinct peak at 315 nm indicated that pith parenchyma cells are not extensively lignified, but contain significant amounts of hydroxycinnamic acids. Cellular UV image profiles scanned with an absorbance intensity maximum of 278 nm identified the pattern of lignin distribution in the individual cell walls, with the highest concentration occurring in the middle lamella and cell corners. Chlorite treatment caused a rapid removal of hydroxycinnamic acids from parenchyma cell walls, whereas the thicker fiber cell walls were delignified only after a long treatment duration (4 hours). Untreated pith samples were promptly hydrolyzed by cellulases, reaching 63% of cellulose conversion after 72 hours of hydrolysis, whereas untreated rind samples achieved only 20% hydrolyzation.
The low recalcitrance of pith cells correlated with the low UV-absorbance values seen in parenchyma cells. Chlorite treatment of pith cells did not enhance cellulose conversion. By contrast, application of the same treatment to rind cells led to significant removal of hydroxycinnamic acids and lignin, resulting in marked enhancement of cellulose conversion by cellulases.
PMCID: PMC3068087  PMID: 21410971
2.  Stiffness gradients in vascular bundles of the palm Washingtonia robusta 
Palms can grow at sites exposed to high winds experiencing large dynamic wind and gust loads. Their stems represent a system of stiff fibrous elements embedded in the soft parenchymatous tissue. The proper design of the interface of the stiffening elements and the parenchyma is crucial for the functioning of the stem. The strategy of the palm to compromise between stiff fibre caps and the soft parenchymatous tissue may serve as a model system for avoiding stress discontinuities in inhomogeneous and anisotropic fibre-reinforced composite materials. We investigated the mechanical, structural and biochemical properties of the fibre caps of the palm Washingtonia robusta at different levels of hierarchy with high spatial resolution. A gradual decrease in stiffness across the fibre cap towards the surrounding parenchymatous tissue was observed. Structural adaptations at the tissue level were found in terms of changes in cell cross sections and cell wall thickness. At the cell wall level, gradients across the fibre cap were found in the degree of orientation of the microfibrils and in the lignin level and composition. The impact of these structural variations in the local material stiffness distribution is discussed.
PMCID: PMC2603245  PMID: 18595839
palms; gradients; micromechanics; tensile stiffness; cell wall; lignin composition
3.  Effect of Local Heating and Cooling on Cambial Activity and Cell Differentiation in the Stem of Norway Spruce (Picea abies) 
Annals of Botany  2006;97(6):943-951.
• Background and Aims The effect of heating and cooling on cambial activity and cell differentiation in part of the stem of Norway spruce (Picea abies) was investigated.
• Methods A heating experiment (23–25 °C) was carried out in spring, before normal reactivation of the cambium, and cooling (9–11 °C) at the height of cambial activity in summer. The cambium, xylem and phloem were investigated by means of light- and transmission electron microscopy and UV-microspectrophotometry in tissues sampled from living trees.
• Key Results Localized heating for 10 d initiated cambial divisions on the phloem side and after 20 d also on the xylem side. In a control tree, regular cambial activity started after 30 d. In the heat-treated sample, up to 15 earlywood cells undergoing differentiation were found to be present. The response of the cambium to stem cooling was less pronounced, and no anatomical differences were detected between the control and cool-treated samples after 10 or 20 d. After 30 d, latewood started to form in the sample exposed to cooling. In addition, almost no radially expanding tracheids were observed and the cambium consisted of only five layers of cells. Low temperatures reduced cambial activity, as indicated by the decreased proportion of latewood. On the phloem side, no alterations were observed among cool-treated and non-treated samples.
• Conclusions Heating and cooling can influence cambial activity and cell differentiation in Norway spruce. However, at the ultrastructural and topochemical levels, no changes were observed in the pattern of secondary cell-wall formation and lignification or in lignin structure, respectively.
PMCID: PMC2803384  PMID: 16613904
Norway spruce; Picea abies; cambium; xylem; phloem; cell differentiation; heating; cooling; light microscopy; transmission electron microscopy; UV-microspectrophotometry
4.  Lignification and Cell Wall Thickening in Nodes of Phyllostachys viridiglaucescens and Phyllostachys nigra 
Annals of Botany  2006;97(4):529-539.
• Background and Aims Bamboos are among the most important plants in the world. The anatomical structure and mechanical properties of the culm internode are well documented. Fewer details are available of the culm node. The aim of this study was a topochemical investigation on lignification and cell wall thickening in developing and maturing bamboo nodes. The deposition sequence and distribution of lignin structural units and cell wall thickening in different anatomical regions of the node of Phyllostachys viridiglaucescens and Phyllostachys nigra are discussed.
• Methods Cell wall thickening and lignification are investigated in the outer part of the nodal region and in the diaphragm of developing and maturing P. nigra culms and in maturing culms of P. viridiglaucescens of different age classes. The lignification during ageing was studied topochemically by means of cellular UV microspectrophotometry. A combination of light microscopy and image analysis techniques were used to measure cell wall thickness.
• Key Results The fibre and parenchyma cell wall thickness does not significantly increase during ageing. In the diaphragm, the cell walls are thinner and the cell diameter is larger than in the outer part of the node. In shoots, the lignin content in the epidermis, hypodermis and in both fibre and parenchyma cells of the diaphragm is relatively low compared with older culms. The fibre and parenchyma cells of the diaphragm have higher values of p-coumaric and ferulic acids than fibre and parenchyma cells of the outer part of the node.
• Conclusions It was hypothesized that the combination of more hydroxycinnamic acids and of thinner cell walls in combination with higher cell diameters (lower density and lower stiffness) in the diaphragm than in the outer part of the node may play an important role in the biomechanical function of the node by acting as a spring-like joint to support the culm by bending forces.
PMCID: PMC2803665  PMID: 16464876
Bamboo; Phyllostachys viridiglaucescens; Phyllostachys nigra; nodes; anatomy; lignification; cell wall thickening; UV-microspectophotometry

Results 1-4 (4)