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Planta. 2006 Sep;224(4):865-77. Epub 2006 May 17.

Ethylene in induced conifer defense: cDNA cloning, protein expression, and cellular and subcellular localization of 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylate oxidase in resin duct and phenolic parenchyma cells.

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  • 1Michael Smith Laboratories, University of British Columbia, 321-2185 East Mall, Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6T 1Z4.


Members of the Pinaceae family have complex chemical defense strategies. Conifer defenses associated with specialized cell types of the bark involve constitutive and inducible accumulation of phenolic compounds in polyphenolic phloem parenchyma cells and oleoresin terpenoids in resin ducts. These defenses can protect trees against insect herbivory and fungal colonization. The phytohormone ethylene has been shown to induce the same anatomical and cellular defense responses that occur following insect feeding, mechanical wounding, or fungal inoculation in Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) stems (Hudgins and Franceschi in Plant Physiol 135:2134-2149, 2004). However, very little is known about the genes involved in ethylene formation in conifer defense or about the temporal and spatial patterns of their protein expression. The enzyme 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylate oxidase (ACO) catalyzes the final step in ethylene biosynthesis. We cloned full-length and near full-length ACO cDNAs from three conifer species, Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis), white spruce (P. glauca), and Douglas fir, each with high similarity to Arabidopsis thaliana ACO proteins. Using an Arabidopsis anti-ACO antibody we determined that ACO is constitutively expressed in Douglas fir stem tissues and is up-regulated by mechanical wounding, consistent with the wound-induced increase of ethylene levels. Immunolocalization showed cytosolic ACO is predominantly present in specialized cell types of the wound-induced bark, specifically in epithelial cells of terpenoid-producing cortical resin ducts, in polyphenolic phloem parenchyma cells, and in ray parenchyma cells.

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