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Am J Bot. 1998 May;85(5):601.

Specialized phloem parenchyma cells in Norway spruce (Pinaceae) bark are an important site of defense reactions.


The bark anatomy of Norway spruce clones that were resistant or susceptible to Ceratocystis polonica, a bark-beetle-vectored fungal pathogen, was compared. The major difference concerned the axial parenchyma cells, called polyphenolic parenchyma (PP cells) because of their vacuolar deposits. The phenolic nature of the deposits was indicated by autofluorescence under blue light, and immunocytochemical studies demonstrating PP cells are enriched in phenylalanine ammonia lyase (EC, a key enzyme in phenolic synthesis. Susceptible-clone PP cells occurred as single rows filled with dense deposits. The resistant clone had 40% more PP cells, which occurred in rows two cells thick plus as individual cells scattered among the sieve cells and had lighter deposits. Trees inoculated with fungus were analyzed but a distinct fungal response could not be separated from the general wound response. In the resistant clone, phenolic bodies were reduced in size and density or disappeared completely 12 d after wounding, and PP cell size increased. The susceptible-clone phenolics and cell size changed only slightly. These data show that PP cells are active in synthesis, storage, and modification of phenolics in response to wounding, providing an important site of constitutive and inducible defenses.

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