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Xylem Anatomy and Cell Wall Ultrastructure of Nicotiana Tabacum After Lignin Genetic Modification Through Transcriptional Activator EgMYB2

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The transcriptional activator EgMYB2, which belongs to the large R2R3 MYB transcription factor family, plays a major role in the coordinated control of genes in the lignin biosynthetic pathway. Given that lignin genetic modification can lead to xylem alterations compromising vascular functionality, we characterised wood anatomical properties of two transgenic tobacco lines over-expressing EgMYB2, using light, fluorescence, confocal, transmission electron microscopy, immunocytochemical labelling and digital image analysis. Transgenic wood, compared with wild type, was characterised by both reduced frequency of larger vessels and lower vessel grouping; these traits are known to have physiological implications in terms of water transport efficiency and safety against embolism. Transgenic wood also appeared denser due to the occurrence of thicker cell walls and higher incidence of fibres than wild type. Increased lignin content was accompanied by a concomitant increase in cellulose and xylan, but no alterations in the usual distribution of guaiacyl and syringyl units in secondary cell walls were observed. Altogether, these results show that EgMYB2 is a master regulator controlling the synthesis of the three major polymers of the secondary cell wall and that its overexpression has significant influence on quantitative anatomical traits of wood which affect its functional properties.


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