In vascular plants, the polysaccharide-based walls of water-conducting cells are strengthened by impregnation with the polyphenolic polymer lignin. The fine-scale patterning of lignin deposition in water-conducting cells is shown here to vary phylogenetically across vascular plants. The extent to which water transport in xylem cells can be modified in response to changes in the ionic content of xylem sap also is shown to vary in correlation with variation in lignification patterns, consistent with the proposed mechanism for hydraulic response through size change of middle-lamella pectins. This covariation suggests that the fine-scale distribution of hydrophilic polysaccharides and hydrophobic lignin can affect hydraulic as well as mechanical properties, and that the evolutionary diversification of vascular cells thus reflects biochemical as well as morphological innovations evolved to fulfill opposing cell functions of transport and structural support.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||4|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - Dec 14 2004|
- Cell wall chemistry
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