Peeking into pit fields: a multiple twinning model of secondary plasmodesmata formation in tobacco

Christine Faulkner, Ozgur E Akman, Karen Bell, Chris Jeffree, Karl Oparka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In higher plants, plasmodesmata (PD) are major conduits for cell-cell communication. Primary PD are laid down at cytokinesis, while secondary PD arise during wall extension. During leaf development, the basal cell walls of trichomes extend radially without division, providing a convenient system for studying the origin of secondary PD. We devised a simple freeze-fracture protocol for examining large numbers of PD in surface view. In the postcytokinetic wall, simple PD were distributed randomly. As the wall extended, PD became twinned at the cell periphery. Additional secondary pores were inserted at right angles to these, giving rise to pit fields composed of several paired PD. During wall extension, the number of PD increased fivefold due to the insertion of secondary PD. Our data are consistent with a model in which a subset of the original primary PD pores function as templates for the insertion of new secondary PD, spatially fixing the position of future pit fields. Many of the new PD shared the same wall collar as the original PD pore, suggesting that new PD pores may arise by fissions of existing PD progenitors. Different models of secondary PD formation are discussed. Our data are supported by a computational model, Plasmodesmap, which accurately simulates the formation of radial pit fields during cell wall extension based on the occurrence of multiple PD twinning events in the cell wall. The model predicts PD distributions with striking resemblance to those seen on fractured wall faces.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1504-18
Number of pages15
JournalPlant Cell
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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