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Title: Gelatinous Fibers are Widespread in Coiling Tendrils and Twining Vines

item Bowling, Andrew
item Vaughn, Kevin

Submitted to: American Journal of Botany
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/13/2009
Publication Date: 4/1/2009
Citation: Bowling, A.J., Vaughn, K.C. 2009. Gelatinous Fibers are Widespread in Coiling Tendrils and Twining Vines. American Journal of Botany 96:719-727.

Interpretive Summary: More and more, vines are becoming important weeds in the agricultural landscape, but the hallmark of their morphology, their ability to twine or coil, is still not understood. In this study, scientists at the Southern Weed Science Research Unit, Stoneville MS, investigated a range of vine species using several microscopic protocols to analyze specific types of cell wall structures. With this technology, these scientists found that that a kind of fiber cell generally thought to exist only in tree branches that are righting themselves, are found throughout the stems of twining vines and coiling tendrils and are the agents of the coiling. These data indicate that vines might have unique sites for herbicidal / bio-control agent action that would not damage crop plants, which do not have this type of fiber cell.

Technical Abstract: Although tendrils coil and vines twine has been investigated since Darwin’s time, a full understanding of the mechanism(s) of tendril coiling and twining of vines has not yet been accomplished. In a previous study, it was observed that in tendrils of redvine, gelatinous fibers occurred concomitantly with the ability to coil, strongly indicating their role in the coiling process (Meloche et al., Planta 2007). In this study, tendrils and twining vines of a number of species were examined using microscopic and immunocytochemical techniques to determine if a similar presence and distribution of these fibers exited in other plant species. Tendrils that coiled on all surfaces had a cylinder of cortical gelatinous (G) fibers, similar to redvine. However, tendrils that coiled after stimulation only on a single surface possessed gelatinous fibers only on that inner surface of the tendril. In tendrils with adhesive tips, the gelatinous fibers occurred in the central/core region of the tendril. Coiling occurred later in development in these tendrils, after attachment via the adhesive pad has been made. In twining stems, G fibers were not observed during the rapid circumnutation stage, but were found at later stages when the vine’s position was fixed, generally one-two nodes below the node still circumnutating. The number and extent of fiber development correlated roughly with the amount of torsion required for the vine to ascend a support. In contrast, species that use adventitious roots for climbing or were trailing/scrambling-type vines did not have G fibers. These data strongly support the concept that coiling and twining in vines is caused by the presence of G fibers.