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J Agric Food Chem. 2006 May 31;54(11):3896-900.

Cell wall composition in juvenile and adult leaves of maize (Zea mays L.).

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Department of Agronomy, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA.


Many leaf characteristics vary with position along the culm in maize (Zea mays L.) due to the existence of vegetative phase change and heteroblasty. The objective of this work was to determine if differences in cell wall composition exist among developmental phases and between Cg1, a developmental mutant, and wild-type maize. In one experiment, the middle third of fully elongated leaf blades from lower and upper regions of the shoot was harvested (midribs removed) and analyzed for several cell wall components. Averaged over five inbreds (De811, Ia5125, Mo17, P39, and Wh8584), lower leaf blades had higher levels of xylose and lower levels of total uronosyls, glucose, arabinose, and galactose (P < 0.05) than did upper leaf blades. With the exception of glucose, upper and lower leaves of Cg1 plants varied in the same manner as their near-isogenic siblings, except cell walls of Cg1 plants were more "juvenile" than cell walls of wild-type siblings at the same leaf stage. These data support the hypothesis that Cg1 delays but does not eliminate the transition from juvenile-vegetative to adult-vegetative phase. In a second experiment, juvenile (leaves 3 and 5), transition (leaf 7), and adult (leaves 9 and 11) leaves from inbreds B73 and De811 were harvested and analyzed as in the first experiment. As leaf number rose, total cell wall content of sample dry matter, total neutral sugars, glucose, xylose, and ester-linked monomers of p-coumaric acid and total ferulates including ferulate dimers increased linearly while total uronosyls acids, arabinose, and galactose declined linearly (P < 0.05). Glucose and xylose are major cell wall components released from cellulose and xylans after acid hydrolysis. Pectin, a minor component of grass cell walls, is composed of galacturonosyls, arabinose, and galactose. Secondary cell wall deposition increased between leaves 3 and 11 in a heteroblastic series, due to either increased cell wall content concomitant with decreased cell lumen size, changes in proportion of cell types (i.e., sclerenchyma), or a combination of these factors.

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