- Written by Anna Strom and Edouard Pesquet
What Pesquet’s team at the Umeå Plant Science Centre has done, using a combination of techniques, is to trace the formation of lignin in the vessels through which water and nutrients are transported throughout two model plants.
Lignin is one of the two most prevalent polymers in plants, providing stiffness to their stems and leaves. In an article in the Advance Online version of the prestigious The Plant Cell scientific journal, the UPSC researchers show that, in the walls of the so-called xylem vessels, lignin only forms after the host cells “commit suicide”.
“The wood cell will kill itself and [together with other deceased cells] become a cylinder—the hydro-mineral sap is conducted in the void inside the wood vessels created by the cell suicide. Reinforcement of the conducting structure will then be made post mortem by enabling the lateral cell wall of the wood to lignify", explained the assistant professor Pesquet from his office at Umeå, Sweden.