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Plant Physiol. 1973 Jun;51(6):1133-7.

Separation of mesophyll protoplasts and bundle sheath cells from maize leaves for photosynthetic studies.

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  • 1Department of Horticulture, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53706.


Mesophyll protoplasts and bundle sheath strands of maize (Zea mays L.) leaves have been isolated by enzymatic digestion with cellulase. Mesophyll protoplasts, enzymatically released from maize leaf segments, were further purified by use of a polyethylene glycol-dextran liquid-liquid two phase system. Bundle sheath strands released from the leaf segments were isolated using filtration techniques. Light and electron microscopy show separation of the mesophyll cell protoplasts from bundle sheath strands. Two varieties of maize isolated mesophyll protoplasts had chlorophyll a/b ratios of 3.1 and 3.3, whereas isolated bundle sheath strands had chlorophyll a/b ratios of 6.2 and 6.6. Based on the chlorophyll a/b ratios in mesophyll protoplasts, bundle sheath cells, and whole leaf extracts, approximately 60% of the chlorophyll in the maize leaves would be in mesophyll cells and 40% in bundle sheath cells. The purity of the preparations was also evident from the exclusive localization of phosphopyruvate carboxylase (EC and NADP-dependent malate dehydrogenase (EC 1.1.1) in mesophyll cells and ribulose 1,5-diphosphate carboxylase (EC, phosphoribulokinase (EC, and "malic enzyme" (EC in bundle sheath cells. NADP-glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase (EC was found in both mesophyll and bundle sheath cells, while ribose 5-phosphate isomerase (EC was primarily found in bundle sheath cells. In comparison to the enzyme activities in the whole leaf extract, there was about 90% recovery of the mesophyll enzymes and 65% recovery of the bundle sheath enzymes in the cellular preparations.

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