Super-resolution imaging of plasmodesmata using three-dimensional structured illumination microscopy

Jessica Fitzgibbon, Karen Bell, Emma King, Karl Oparka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We used three-dimensional structured illumination microscopy (3D-SIM) to obtain subdiffraction ("super-resolution") images of plasmodesmata (PD) expressing a green fluorescent protein-tagged viral movement protein (MP) in tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum). In leaf parenchyma cells, we were able to resolve individual components of PD (neck and central cavities) at twice the resolution of a confocal microscope. Within the phloem, MP-green fluorescent protein filaments extended outward from the specialized pore-PD that connect sieve elements (SEs) with their companion cells (CCs) along the tubular sieve element reticulum (SER). The SER was shown to interconnect individual pore-PD at the SE-CC interface. 3D-SIM resolved fine (less than 100 nm) endoplasmic reticulum threads running into individual pore-PD as well as strands that crossed sieve plate pores, structurally linking SEs within a file. Our data reveal that MP entering the SE from the CC may remain associated with the SER. Fluorescence recovery after photobleaching experiments revealed that this MP pool is relatively immobile compared with the membrane probe 3,3'-dihexyloxacarbocyanine iodide, suggesting that MP may become sequestered by the SER once it has entered the SE. The advent of 3D-SIM offers considerable potential in the subdiffraction imaging of plant cells, bridging an important gap between confocal and electron microscopy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1453-63
Number of pages11
JournalPlant physiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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