The Gelatinous Extracellular Matrix Facilitates Transport Studies in Kelp: Visualization of Pressure-Induced Flow Reversal Across Sieve PlatesAnnals of Botany (2016)
Background and Aims In vascular plants, important questions regarding phloem function remain unanswered due to problems with invasive experimental procedures in this highly sensitive tissue. Certain brown algae (kelps; Laminariales) also possess sieve tubes for photoassimilate transport, but these are embedded in large volumes of a gelatinous extracellular matrix which isolates them from neighbouring cells. Therefore, we hypothesized that kelp sieve tubes might tolerate invasive experimentation better than their analogues in higher plants, and sought to establish Nereocystis luetkeana as an experimental system.
Methods The predominant localization of cellulose and the gelatinous extracellular matrix in N. luetkeana was verified using specific fluorescent markers and confocal laser scanning microscopy. Sieve tubes in intact specimens were loaded with fluorescent dyes, either passively (carboxyfluorescein diacetate; CFDA) or by microinjection (rhodamine B), and the movement of the dyes was monitored by fluorescence microscopy.
Key Results Application of CFDA demonstrated source to sink bulk flow in N. luetkeana sieve tubes, and revealed the complexity of sieve tube structure, with branches, junctions and lateral connections. Microinjection into sieve elements proved comparatively easy. Pulsed rhodamine B injection enabled the determination of flow velocity in individual sieve elements, and the direct visualization of pressure-induced reversals of flow direction across sieve plates.
Conclusions The reversal of flow direction across sieve plates by pressurizing the downstream sieve element conclusively demonstrates that a critical requirement of the Münch theory is satisfied in kelp; no such evidence exists for tracheophytes. Because of the high tolerance of its sieve elements to experimental manipulation, N. luetkeana is a promising alternative to vascular plants for studying the fluid mechanics of sieve tube networks.
Publication DateFebruary 29, 2016
Citation InformationJan Knoblauch, Winfried S. Peters and Michael Knoblauch. "The Gelatinous Extracellular Matrix Facilitates Transport Studies in Kelp: Visualization of Pressure-Induced Flow Reversal Across Sieve Plates" Annals of Botany Vol. 117 (2016) p. 599 - 606
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/winfried_peters/70/