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, 96 (7), 1245-54

Diversity and Distribution of Idioblasts Producing Calcium Oxalate Crystals in Dieffenbachia Seguine (Araceae)

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Diversity and Distribution of Idioblasts Producing Calcium Oxalate Crystals in Dieffenbachia Seguine (Araceae)

Gary G Coté. Am J Bot.

Abstract

Although cells that synthesize crystals are known throughout the plant kingdom, their functional significance is still unknown. Mechanical support, mineral balance, waste sequestration, and protection against herbivores have all been proposed as crystal functions. To seek clues to their role(s), I systematically examined all organs except fruit of Dieffenbachia seguine (Araceae) for crystals. Crystals were found in nearly every organ. Raphides (long, slim, pointed crystals) were most common, but druses (crystal aggregates) and prisms were also found. Raphides varied in size by a factor of 10 and also in organization from tightly bundled to loosely organized. Biforines, a type of cell capable of expelling raphides, or biforine-like cells, were found in nearly all organs, but especially in leaves, spathes, and anthers. Different organs had different crystal complements, and characteristic crystals were found at specific locations, such as among pollen, along the undersides of leaf veins, and at root branch points. All crystals appeared to be composed of calcium oxalate, based on acid solubility. Possible roles of the crystals are discussed in light of these findings.

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