Symplastic isolation of the sieve element-companion cell complex in the phloem of Ricinus communis and Salix alba stems

Planta. 1991 Dec;183(1):69-76. doi: 10.1007/BF00197569.


The anatomical and physiological isolation of the sieve element-companion cell complex (se-cc complex) was investigated in stems of Ricinus communis L. and Salix alba L. In Ricinus, the plasmodesmatal frequencies were in the proportions 8∶1∶2∶30, in the order given, at the interfaces between sieve tube-companion cell, sieve tube-phloem parenchyma cell, companion cellphloem parenchyma cell, and phloem parenchyma cellphloem parenchyma cell. The membrane potentials of the se-cc complex and the surrounding phloem-parenchyma cells sharply contrasted: the membrane potential of the se-cc complex was about twice as negative as that of the phloem parenchyma. Lucifer Yellow CH injected into the sieve element or into the companion cell remained within the se-cc complex. Dye introduced into phloem parenchyma only moved (mostly poorly) to other phloem-parenchyma cells. The distribution of the plasmodesmatal frequencies, the differential dye-coupling and the sharp discontinuities in membrane potentials indicate that the se-cc complexes constitute symplast domains in the stem phloem. Symplastic autonomy is discussed as a basic necessity for the functioning of the se-cc complex in the stem.