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The distribution and ultrastructure of vegetative storage proteins in 44 species and one variety of 31 genera of Leguminosae were investigated by light- and electron microscopy and SDS-PAGE. Leguminosae are as a whole a vegetative storage protein-rich family, abundant with vacuolar protein inclusions in deciduous trees while much less so in evergreen trees. Several prominent proteins with molecular weights ranging from 15 to 45 kDa were isolated and identified to be vegetative storage proteins on the basis of their association with vacuolar protein inclusions and seasonal fluctuation. Vacuolar protein inclusions were present in protein body-like organelles in temperate species while localized in large central vacuoles in tropical ones during leafless periods. The inclusions varied in forms among species or in the same species, but the different forms were present in different cells, suggesting that vegetative storage proteins may be cell-type specific to some extent.


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