Organisation of the endosperm and endosperm-placenta syncytia in bladderworts (Utricularia, Lentibulariaceae) with emphasis on the microtubule arrangement.

Research paper by Bartosz J BJ Płachno, Piotr P Swiątek, Hanna H Sas-Nowosielska, Małgorzata M Kozieradzka-Kiszkurno

Indexed on: 28 Nov '12Published on: 28 Nov '12Published in: Protoplasma


Multinucleate cells play an important role in higher plants, especially during reproduction; however, the configurations of their cytoskeletons, which are formed as a result of mitosis without cytokinesis, have mainly been studied in coenocytes. Previous authors have proposed that in spite of their developmental origin (cell fusion or mitosis without cytokinesis), in multinucleate plant cells, radiating microtubules determine the regular spacing of individual nuclei. However, with the exception of specific syncytia induced by parasitic nematodes, there is no information about the microtubular cytoskeleton in plant heterokaryotic syncytia, i.e. when the nuclei of fused cells come from different cell pools. In this paper, we describe the arrangement of microtubules in the endosperm and special endosperm-placenta syncytia in two Utricularia species. These syncytia arise from different progenitor cells, i.e. cells of the maternal sporophytic nutritive tissue and the micropylar endosperm haustorium (both maternal and paternal genetic material). The development of the endosperm in the two species studied was very similar. We describe microtubule configurations in the three functional endosperm domains: the micropylar syncytium, the endosperm proper and the chalazal haustorium. In contrast to plant syncytia that are induced by parasitic nematodes, the syncytia of Utricularia had an extensive microtubular network. Within each syncytium, two giant nuclei, coming from endosperm cells, were surrounded by a three-dimensional cage of microtubules, which formed a huge cytoplasmic domain. At the periphery of the syncytium, where new protoplasts of the nutritive cells join the syncytium, the microtubules formed a network which surrounded small nuclei from nutritive tissue cells and were also distributed through the cytoplasm. Thus, in the Utricularia syncytium, there were different sized cytoplasmic domains, whose architecture depended on the source and size of the nuclei. The endosperm proper was isolated from maternal (ovule) tissues by a cuticle layer, so the syncytium and chalazal haustorium were the only way for nutrients to be transported from the maternal tissue towards the developing embryo.