Unusual Metaxylem Tracheids in Petioles of Amorphophallus (Araceae) Giant Leaves

September 2005
Annals of Botany;Sep2005, Vol. 96 Issue 3, p407
Academic Journal
• Background and Aims Petioles of huge solitary leaves of mature plants of Amorphophallus resemble tree trunks supporting an umbrella-like crown. Since they may be 4 m tall, adaptations to water transport in the petioles are as important as adaptations to mechanical support of lamina. The petiole is a cylindrical shell composed of compact unlignified tissue with a honeycomb aerenchymatous core. In both parts numerous vascular bundles occur, which are unique because of the scarcity of lignified elements. In the xylemic part of each bundle there is a characteristic canal with unlignified walls. The xylem pecularities are described and interpreted.• Material Vascular bundles in mature petioles of Amorphophallus titanum and A. gigas plants were studied using light and scanning electron microscopy.• Key Results The xylemic canal represents a file of huge metaxylem tracheids (diameter 55–200 µm, length >30 mm) with unlignified lateral walls surrounded by turgid parenchyma cells. Only their end walls, orientated steeply, have lignified secondary thickenings. The file is accompanied by a strand of narrow tracheids with lignified bar-type secondary walls, which come into direct contact with the wide tracheid in many places along its length.• Conclusions The metaxylem tracheids in A. petioles are probably the longest and widest tracheids known. Only their end walls have lignified secondary thickenings. Tracheids are long due to enormous intercalary elongation and wide due to a transverse growth mechanism similar to that underlying formation of aerenchyma cavities. The lack of lignin in lateral walls shifts the function of ‘pipe walls’ to the turgid parenchyma paving the tracheid. The analogy to carinal canals of Equisetum, as well as other protoxylem lacunas is discussed. The stiff partitions between the long and wide tracheids are interpreted as structures similar to the end walls in vessels.


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