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Per Pippin Aspaas and László Kontler

Maximilian Hell (1720-1792, originally Höll) was one of the foremost Jesuit scholars from eighteenth-century Central Europe. Maximilian Hell (1720–92) and the Ends of Jesuit Science in Enlightenment Europe seeks to offer an interpretation of the relationship of Enlightenment, Catholicism, state building, and the practice and pursuit of scientific knowledge (in particular, “Jesuit science”) in the eighteenth-century Habsburg Monarchy and its wider European contexts through the prism of the career of the imperial and royal astronomer Maximilian Hell.

Roberto R. Pujana and Daniela P. Ruiz

ABSTRACT

Over 80 samples of fossil woods were collected from numerous outcrops of the Río Turbio Formation, southwestern Patagonia. Preservation of the woods is variable and only about half of these samples could be identified to genus level. The assemblage consists of six types of conifers and four types of dicotyledons, one of them a new species of Caldcluvioxylon (Cunoniaceae). We provide an emended diagnosis of Caldcluvioxylon. A previously described fossil wood from this stratigraphic unit, thought to have affinity with Proteaceae, was re-examined and is described herein as Scalarixylon romeroi sp.nov. Other families recognized in the Río Turbio Formation wood assemblage are Araucariaceae, Podocarpaceae, and Nothofagaceae. Differences in the taxonomic composition of the upper and lower members of the Río Turbio Formation are consistent with the age difference between them according to recent isotopic dating. The diversity of fossil wood is also consistent with the fossil leaves and pollen from each stratigraphic level and most of the taxa are shared with coeval Antarctic fossil wood floras.

Jong Sik Kim and Geoffrey Daniel

Edited by Lloyd A. Donaldson

ABSTRACT

Although there is considerable information on the chemistry of gelatinous (G) layers in tension wood (TW) fibers consisting of S1+S2+G cell wall structure (poplar), little is known on the chemistry of G-layers in TW fibers organized with S1+G structure. This study investigated the distribution of lignin and non-cellulosic polysaccharides in ash TW fibers (S1+G) using histochemistry and immunolocalization methods. TW fibers studied were fully developed (mature fibers) and obtained from two (TW-1, TW-2) mature European ash trees (Fraxinus excelsior L.). Based on differences in microfibril angle (MFA) and TW trees used, TW fibers were mainly classified into three types; 1) Type-1 fibers with MFA almost parallel to the fiber axis that were found in TW-1, 2) Type-2 fibers with 12° MFA that were abundant at the end of growth rings of TW-1 and 3) Type-3 fibers with 10° MFA that were found in TW-2. The S3 layer was absent in all TW fibers. In this study, the secondary cell wall structure of Type-1 and Type-2/Type-3 fibers were defined as G and GL (gelatinous-like) layers, respectively. Lignin with syringyl (S) units was detected in G/GL-layers, in which intensity and patterns of lignin staining likely related to the difference in MFA between G- and GL-layers. With hemicelluloses, heteroxylan and heteromannan epitopes were detected in G/GL-layers but these were much less abundant than those in S2 layers of normal wood (NW) fibers. Like lignin, distribution patterns of heteromannan epitopes in G/GL-layers likely related to differences in MFA between fiber types. Sparse xyloglucan epitopes were also detected in G/GL-layers. Homogalacturonan epitopes were absent in G/GL-layers. All fiber types showed abundant a-1, 5-arabinan epitopes in G/GL-layers. Overall results indicate that the chemistry of ash TW fibers studied differs significantly from that of other species reported previously, specifically TW fibers composed of S1+S2+G structure.

Jie Wang, Liping Ning, Qi Gao, Shiye Zhang and Quan Chen

Edited by Lloyd A. Donaldson

ABSTRACT

The subject of this study is the structure and composition of buried Phoebe zhennan wood. Through comparative studies of the anatomy and composition with modern undegraded wood, the objective was to understand any changes that have taken place in the P. zhennan buried wood samples. The P. zhennan buried wood can be identified by wood structure characteristics and volatile components analysis. It is required that the microstructural features are identical to those of modern P. zhennan wood; simultaneously, the volatile components of the wood must contain six characteristic compounds with the same peak retention time. The P. zhennan buried wood sample which was used in the experiment was dated 8035–7945 BP (95.4% probability). Further research showed that the cell wall of P. zhennan buried wood had been damaged, the hemicellulose was heavily degraded but there was no obvious degradation of crystalline cellulose. Moisture was present mainly as free water and large amounts of mineral elements such as Fe, and Ni were detected in the ash of P. zhennan buried wood. Both the buried and modern wood of P. zhennan were acidic.

Anne-Laure Decombeix, Anaïs Boura and Alexandru M. F. Tomescu

ABSTRACT

Studies of anatomically preserved fossils provide a wealth of information on the evolution of plant vascular systems through time, from the oldest evidence of vascular plants more than 400 million years ago to the rise of the modern angiosperm-dominated flora. In reviewing the key contributions of the fossil record, we discuss knowledge gaps and major outstanding questions about the processes attending the evolution of vascular systems. The appearance and diversification of early vascular plants in the late Silurian-Devonian was accompanied by the evolution of different types of tracheids, which initially improved the hydraulics of conduction but had less of an effect on mechanical support. This was followed in the Devonian and Carboniferous by an increase in complexity of the organization of primary vascular tissues, with different types of steles evolving in response to mechanical, hydraulic, and developmental regulatory constraints. Concurrently, secondary vascular tissues, such as wood, produced by unifacial or bifacial cambia are documented in a wide array of plant groups, including some that do not undergo secondary growth today. While wood production has traditionally been thought to have evolved independently in different lineages, accumulating evidence suggests that this taxonomic breadth reflects mosaic deployment of basic developmental mechanisms, some of which are derived by common ancestry. For most of vascular plant history, wood contained a single type of conducting element: tracheids (homoxyly). However, quantitative (e.g. diameter and length) and qualitative (e.g. pitting type) diversity of these tracheids allowed various taxa to cover a broad range of hydraulic properties. A second type of conducting elements, vessels, is first documented in an extinct late Permian (c. 260 Ma) group. While the putative hydraulic advantages of vessels are still debated, wood characterized by presence of vessels (heteroxyly) would become the dominant type, following the diversification of angiosperms during the Cretaceous.

Adya P. Singh, Yoon Soo Kim and Ramesh R. Chavan

Edited by Lloyd A. Donaldson

ABSTRACT

This review presents information on the relationship of ultrastructure and composition of wood cell walls, in order to understand how wood degrading bacteria utilise cell wall components for their nutrition. A brief outline of the structure and composition of plant cell walls and the degradation patterns associated with bacterial degradation of wood cell walls precedes the description of the relationship of cell wall micro- and ultrastructure to bacterial degradation of the cell wall. The main topics covered are cell wall structure and composition, patterns of cell wall degradation by erosion and tunnelling bacteria, and the relationship of cell wall ultrastructure and composition to wood degradation by erosion and tunnelling bacteria. Finally, pertinent information from select recent studies employing molecular approaches to identify bacteria which can degrade lignin and other wood cell wall components is presented, and prospects for future investigations on wood degrading bacteria are explored.

Lloyd Donaldson, Adya Singh, Laura Raymond, Stefan Hill and Uwe Schmitt

ABSTRACT

Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) has distinctly colored heartwood as a result of extractive deposition during heartwood formation. This is known to affect natural durability and treatability with preservatives, as well as other types of wood modification involving infiltration with chemicals. The distribution of extractives in sapwood and heartwood of Douglas-fir was studied using fluorescence microscopy. Several different types of extractive including flavonoids, resin acids, and tannins were localized to heartwood cell walls, resin canals, and rays, using autofluorescence or staining of flavonoids with Naturstoff A reagent. Extractives were found to infiltrate the cell walls of heartwood tracheids and were also present to a lesser extent in sapwood tracheid cell walls, especially in regions adjacent to the resin canals. Förster resonance energy transfer measurements showed that the accessibility of lignin lining cell wall micropores to rhodamine dye was reduced by about 50%, probably as a result of cell wall-bound tannin-like materials which accumulate in heartwood relative to sapwood, and are responsible for the orange color of the heartwood. These results indicate that micro-distribution of heartwood extractives affects cell wall porosity which is reduced by the accumulation of heartwood extractives in softwood tracheid cell walls.

Shuqin Zhang, Rong Liu, Caiping Lian, Junji Luo, Feng Yang, Xianmiao Liu and Benhua Fei

Edited by Lloyd A. Donaldson

ABSTRACT

The flow of xylem sap in bamboo is closely associated with metaxylem vessels and the pits in their cell walls. These pits are essential components of the watertransport system and are key intercellular pathways for transverse permeation of treatment agents related to utilization. Observations of metaxylem vessels and pits in moso bamboo culm internodes were carried out using environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM) to examine mature bamboo fractures and resin casts. The results showed that bordered pits were distributed in relation to adjacent cell types with most pits between vessels and parenchyma cells and few pits between vessels and fibers of the bundle sheath. The pit arrangement was mainly opposite to alternate with apertures ranging from oval, flattened elliptical, or slit-like to coalescent. The vertical dimensions of inner apertures and outer apertures of the pits were about 0.9-2.7 μm and 1.1-3.8 μm, respectively. According to the relative position, and size difference between the inner apertures and their borders, the bordered pit shapes were categorized into three types, namely PI, PII and PIII (Fig. 3C). Half-bordered pit pairs were observed between vessels and direct contact parenchyma cells. Most vessel elements possessed simple perforation plates.

Mathew R. Vanner

Edited by Elisabeth A. Wheeler

ABSTRACT

Angiosperm wood from the Miocene Landslip Hill silcrete, Southland, New Zealand is described. It is characterised by solitary vessels of two distinct size classes; rays of two size classes alongside aggregate rays; simple perforation plates; and axial parenchyma in tangential bands up to three cells wide. The wood has features similar to Casuarinaceae and is described here as a new species, Casuarinoxylon ildephonsi. The fossils were collected as isolated fragments of wood; there is no directly associated cladode or cone material although isolated fragments of these are common elsewhere in the Landslip Hill silcrete. This is the second record of fossil Casuarinaceae wood from New Zealand and the first sample to be anatomically described. Currently, Casuarinaceae does not occur in New Zealand. Casuarinoxylon ildephonsi would have grown in a warm temperate to subtropical climate on an open deltaic floodplain.

Mélanie Tanrattana, Jean-François Barczi, Anne-Laure Decombeix, Brigitte Meyer-Berthaud and Jonathan Wilson

Edited by Lisa Boucher

ABSTRACT

The origin of xylem in the Silurian was a major step in plant evolution, leading to diverse growth forms with various mechanical and hydraulic properties. In the fossil record, these properties can only be investigated using models based on extant plant physiology. Regarding hydraulics, previous studies have considered either the properties of a single tracheid or of a set of independent tubes. Here, we use the analogy between the flow of water under tension in a plant and an electrical circuit to develop an extension of Wilson’s single tracheid model to the tissue scale. Upscaling to the tissue-level allows considering wood as a heterogeneous tissue by taking into account differences in tracheid density and the presence of rays. The new model provides a more biologically accurate representation of fossil wood hydraulic properties. The single tracheid and new tissue models are applied to two conspecific specimens of Callixylon (Progymnospermopsida, Archeopteridales) from the Late Devonian of Morocco. Differences are shown at the tissue level that cannot be suspected at the single tracheid level. Callixylon represents the first trees with a conifer-like wood and is a major component of Late Devonian fl oras worldwide. Our results show that the anatomical disparity of its wood might have led to hydraulic plasticity, allowing growth in various environmental conditions. More generally, the new tissue-model suggests that the various combinations of tracheid and ray sizes present in Palaeozoic plants might have led to a higher variety of ecophysiologies than suspected based solely on the properties of individual tracheids.