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New observations of radial sieve tubes in the secondary xylem of two genera and four species of agarwood — Aquilaria sinensis, A. crasna, A. malaccensis and Gyrinops versteeghii (Thymelaeaceae) — are presented in this study. The earliest radial sieve tubes in Gyrinops are formed in the secondary xylem adjacent to the pith. The radial sieve tubes originate from the vascular cambium and develop in both uniseriate and multiseriate ray tissue. In addition to sieve plates in lateral and end walls, scattered or clustered minute sieve pores are localized in the lateral wall of radial sieve tubes. There is a direct connection between radial sieve tubes in ray tissue and axial sieve tubes in interxylary phloem strands (IP), such as (i) connection by bending of radial sieve tube strands, (ii) connection of two IP strands by an oblique bridge, and (iii) connection of two IP strands at a right angle. The average number of radial sieve tubes and interxylary phloem was found to be 1.7 per mm3 and 9.1 per mm2 in the secondary xylem. Considering the higher frequency of radial sieve tubes with the increasing thickness of the secondary xylem, the direct connections between radial and axial sieve tubes could play a significant role in assisting the translocation of metabolites in Aquilaria and Gyrinops.

In: IAWA Journal