Scanning Microscopy


Confocal and video micrographs of living and fixed alfalfa roots, onion epithelial and pear pollen cells illustrate the architecture of the cytoskeleton and endoplasmic reticulum in plant cells. Fixation of plant tissues to preserve cytoplasmic structure poses special problems. When possible, emphasis should be placed on the imaging of structures in stained living cells over time. The early events that occur when Nod factors or bacteria elicit nodule formation in alfalfa roots will illustrate several approaches to plant cell fixation, staining and imaging. The first observable events after Nod factor stimulation occur in root hairs and are changes in rates of cytoplasmic streaming, nuclear movements, and changes in the shape of the vacuole. Within ten minutes, the endoplasmic reticulum shifts position towards the tip of the root hair. For comparison, the endoplasmic reticulum localization in pollen tubes and onion epithelial cells will be illustrated. The actin cytoskeleton undergoes a series of changes over a twelve hour period. These changes in the cytoskeleton are spatially and temporally correlated with the observed growth changes of the root hairs. This dynamic change of the actin filament and endoplasmic reticulum and associated secretory vesicles in these root hairs suggests a mechanism for the observed root hair growth changes.

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