STRUCTURE AND CHEMISTRY OF THE XYLEM OF ARBORESCENT SPECIES OF BLECHNUM FROM SOUTH AMERICA

In: IAWA Journal

The xylem in three arborescent species of Blechnum section Lomariocycas was studied in detail using SEM, TEM, FT-IR spectroscopy and sugar composition analysis. The overall structure of root and rhizome metaxylem tracheids was similar in the three species analyzed, and characterized by mostly scalariform pitting of these multifaceted cells. Pit membrane thickness and porosity varied according to the stage of tracheid maturation. Approximately rounded deposits resembling vestures were observed in the outer pit apertures of some tracheids. Under TEM, thickenings like one-sided tori appeared on the tracheid side of tracheid-to-parenchyma contact walls; some parenchyma cells showed, in addition, features of transfer cells. As the increase in stature creates new constraints in terms of biomechanical support and water transport in plants, the characteristics found in Blechnum xylem might be related to optimization of conductive efficiency and safety. Chemical analyses of roots and rhizomes of B. yungense revealed similar levels of G-type lignin deposited in the xylem cell walls. Such lignin is the most common in ferns, including other arborescent genera. Preliminary analysis of cell wall polysaccharide composition of both root and rhizome xylem, yielded cellulose, xyloglucans and xylans with low amounts of mannans and pectins. The xylem of rhizomes had higher amounts of cellulose than root xylem. Our results are discussed in the context of functional and evolutionary aspects of xylem ferns.

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