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Fundamental Differences Between two Fiber Types in Acer

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Our earlier studies on Acer have shown morphological and chemical differences between two fiber types. Our new research applies the soft-rot cavity method using the soft-rot fungus Chaetomium globosum to measure the microfibril angle (MFA) in these two fiber types in fifteen species of Acer (maple). Microfibril angles in fiber type 1 were significantly larger than those in fiber type 2. The greatest difference (11.6°) was noted in radial sections of Acer floridanum, in which the average MFA (n =100) obtained from soft-rot cavities for fiber type 1 was 23.3 degrees (95 % C.I. ±1.4°) and for fiber type 2 11.7 degrees (95 % C.I. ±1.2°). The second greatest difference (10.0°) was in Acer nigrum, where the average MFA for type 1 was 16.4 degrees (95 % C.I. ±1.07°) and for type 2 6.4 degrees (95 % C.I. ± 0.64°). When transverse sections were examined with polarized light, areas of fiber type 1 were darker (less birefringent) than those of type 2, which indicates that the MFA of the two cell types differs. After four weeks of exposure to C. globosum the fibers of type 1 were more intensely attacked by the fungus than were the fibers of type 2, suggesting a difference in cell wall chemistry. Fluorescence spectra of the two types of fibers support that observation. Differences in MFA supplement the differences in morphology and chemistry and demonstrate that for Acer species the two fiber types are fundamentally different. These two types of fiber differ in the distribution of their pits. In type 1 the pits are concentrated mainly toward the center of the fiber while in type 2 the pits are distributed along the fiber length.


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