Background and Aims
Alterations of plasmodesma (PD) connectivity are likely to be very important for plant development. Here, the repetitive division pattern of cambial initials in Populus nigra ‘italica’ was studied to follow the development of the PD network during maturation. Furthermore, seasonal changes were investigated in order to trace indications for developmental and functional adaptations.
Cambium samples of P. nigra twigs, collected in summer, autumn and spring, were chemically fixed for transmission electron microscopy. The parameters, PD density (number of PDs per square micrometre cell-wall area) and PD frequency (total number of PDs per average cell-wall area), were determined for radial and tangential cell interfaces deposited in chronological order.
Data sets, presented in plasmodesmograms, show a strong variability in the PD network throughout the year. In summer, high PD numbers occur at the division wall which, after PD doubling by longitudinal fission, decline with further development both at the xylem and the phloem side. In autumn, the number of PDs at the division wall is low as they are in subsequent tangential interfaces. In spring, the first cell division coincides with a massive increase in PD numbers, in particular at the division wall. Only the radial walls between initials maintain their PD equipment throughout the year. This feature can be exploited for identification of the initial layer.
PD networks in the cambium go through a strict developmental programme depending on the season, which is associated with changing functional requirements. For instance, PD numbers correlate with proliferative activity and potential pathways for intercellular signalling. Increases in PD numbers are ascribed to longitudinal fission as a major mechanism, whereas the decline in older derivatives is ascribed to PD degradation.