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Bordered pits in xylem of vesselless angiosperms and their possible misinterpretation as perforation plates

Zhang, Ya, Klepsch, Matthias, Jansen, Steven
Plant, cell and environment 2017 v.40 no.10 pp. 2133-2146
gold, Amborellaceae, wood, porosity, latewood, shrinkage, scanning electron microscopy, Trochodendron aralioides, transmission electron microscopy, ultrastructure, Drimys winteri, Tetracentron sinense
Vesselless wood represents a rare phenomenon within the angiosperms, characterizing Amborellaceae, Trochodendraceae and Winteraceae. Anatomical observations of bordered pits and their pit membranes based on light, scanning and transmission electron microscopy (SEM and TEM) are required to understand functional questions surrounding vesselless angiosperms and the potential occurrence of cryptic vessels. Interconduit pit membranes in 11 vesselless species showed a similar ultrastructure as mesophytic vessel‐bearing angiosperms, with a mean thickness of 245 nm (± 53, SD; n = six species). Shrunken, damaged and aspirated pit membranes, which were 52% thinner than pit membranes in fresh samples (n = four species), occurred in all dried‐and‐rehydrated samples, and in fresh latewood of Tetracentron sinense and Trochodendron aralioides. SEM demonstrated that shrunken pit membranes showed artificially enlarged, > 100 nm wide pores. Moreover, perfusion experiments with stem segments of Drimys winteri showed that 20 and 50 nm colloidal gold particles only passed through 2 cm long dried‐and‐rehydrated segments, but not through similar sized fresh ones. These results indicate that pit membrane shrinkage is irreversible and associated with a considerable increase in pore size. Moreover, our findings suggest that pit membrane damage, which may occur in planta, could explain earlier records of vessels in vesselless angiosperms.