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The structure and development of interxylary and external phloem in Aquilaria sinensis

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The structure and development of interxylary phloem (IP) and external phloem in Aquilaria sinensis were investigated using light and scanning electron microscopy. Complete IP strands were isolated, measuring 14 ± 4 mm in length and 417 ± 124 μm in width. The outer margin of IP was composed of two to three layers of fusiform parenchyma cells. The development of IP can be divided into five stages: 1) Locally IP starts its differentiation within a small segment of a broad cambial zone, at the cost of xylem differentiation. 2) Inward growth of IP advances, and fibres and sieve tubes differentiate. 3) IP is constricted by the encroachment of immature xylem cells between cambium and immature IP. 4) IP is isolated from the cambium and surrounded by immature, non-lignified xylem tissue. 5) IP is surrounded by lignified xylem tissue, and the fibres within IP become lignified.In all the phloem islands in a ten-year-old stem, sieve elements showed positive staining of callose with aniline blue. However, no staining of callose was observed in the external secondary phloem of agarwood trees collected from two different sites. No sieve tubes or sieve pores were detected by SEM observation of numerous serial cross and radial sections of the external phloem. We therefore conclude that sieve tubes are absent from the external phloem or extremely rare and that the transport of photosynthetic products in the stem of A. sinensis takes place in the interxylary phloem.

Affiliations: 1: 1South West Forestry University, Kunming, P.R. China ; 2: 2Bureau Veritas Consumer Products Services Co. Ltd., Shanghai, P.R. China ; 3: 3Nanjing Forestry University, Nanjing, P.R. China ; 4: 4Professor Emeritus, Kyoto University, Kyoto, and Osaka Prefecture University, Osaka, Japan


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