Display Settings:


Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
New Phytol. 2013 Sep;199(4):936-47. doi: 10.1111/nph.12342. Epub 2013 May 21.

Void space inside the developing seed of Brassica napus and the modelling of its function.

Author information

  • 1BIOSYST- MeBioS, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, University of Leuven, W. de Croylaan 42, 3001, Leuven, Belgium.


The developing seed essentially relies on external oxygen to fuel aerobic respiration, but it is currently unknown how oxygen diffuses into and within the seed, which structural pathways are used and what finally limits gas exchange. By applying synchrotron X-ray computed tomography to developing oilseed rape seeds we uncovered void spaces, and analysed their three-dimensional assembly. Both the testa and the hypocotyl are well endowed with void space, but in the cotyledons, spaces were small and poorly inter-connected. In silico modelling revealed a three orders of magnitude range in oxygen diffusivity from tissue to tissue, and identified major barriers to gas exchange. The oxygen pool stored in the voids is consumed about once per minute. The function of the void space was related to the tissue-specific distribution of storage oils, storage protein and starch, as well as oxygen, water, sugars, amino acids and the level of respiratory activity, analysed using a combination of magnetic resonance imaging, specific oxygen sensors, laser micro-dissection, biochemical and histological methods. We conclude that the size and inter-connectivity of void spaces are major determinants of gas exchange potential, and locally affect the respiratory activity of a developing seed.

© 2013 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2013 New Phytologist Trust.


Brassica napus; gas exchange; mitochondrial respiration; oxygen diffusivity; synchrotron X-ray computed tomography

Comment in

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Images from this publication.See all images (7)Free text

Fig 1
Fig 2
Fig 3
Fig 4
Fig 5
Fig 6
Fig 7
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Blackwell Publishing Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk