Cell wall characteristics and structure of hydrated and dry leaves of the resurrection plant Craterostigma wilmsii, a microscopical study.

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Journal of Plant Physiology

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University of Cape Town

The cell wall architecture of leaf tissues of the resurrection plant Craterostigma wilmsii at various stages of dehydration and rehydration was studied using electron microscopy and immunocytochemistry with antibodies to a hemicellulose (xyloglucan) and pectins. Upon dehydration, the cell walls were shown to fold extensively. It is thought that this folding may prevent excessive mechanical stress developing between the cell wall and the plasmalemma. Our immunocytochemical results show a significant increase in labelling of xyloglucan and unesterified pectins in the cell wall during drying, with levels declining again during rehydration. These components are known to play an important structural role within the cell wall, giving it more tensile strength. It is hypothesised that this increase in tensile strength allows the cell wall to contract and then fold as the plant dries and ultimately prevents the total inward collapse of the cell walls in dry tissue. The increased tensile strength may also be necessary to prevent the cell wall from unfolding and expanding too rapidly upon rehydration, thus allowing plasmalemma-cell wall connections to be reestablished.