Cellulose microfibril orientation and cell shaping in developing guard cells of Allium: The role of microtubules and ion accumulation

B A Palevitz, P K Hepler


The role of microtubules and ions in cell shaping was investigated in differentiating guard cells of Allium using light and electron microscopy and cytochemistry. Microtubules appear soon after cytokinesis in a discrete zone close to the plasmalemma adjacent to the common wall between guard cells. The microtubules fan out from this zone, which corresponds to the future pore site, towards the other sides of the cell. Soon new cellulose microfibrils are deposited on the wall adjacent to the microtubules and oriented parallel to them. As the wall thickens, the shape of the cell shifts from cylindrical to kidney-like. Studies with polarized light show that guard cells gradually assume a birefringence pattern during development characteristic of wall microfibrils radiating away from the pore site. Retardation increases from 10 Å when cells just begin to take shape, to 80-100 Å at maturity. Both microfibril and microtubule orientation remain constant during development. Observations on aberrant cells including those produced under the influence of drugs such as colchicine, which leads to loss of microtubules, abnormal wall thickenings and disruption of wall birefringence, further support the role of microtubules in cell shaping throu...Continue Reading


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