Tissue-related changes in methyl-esterification of pectic polysaccharides in cauliflower (Brassica oleracea L. var. botrytis) stems

Planta. 1998 Jul;205(3):438-44. doi: 10.1007/s004250050341.


Pectic substances are a major component of cell walls in vegetable plants and have an important influence on plant food texture. Cauliflower (Brassica oleracea L. var. botrytis) stem sections at different regions of the mature plant stem have been monitored for tissue-related changes in the native pectic polysaccharides. Chemical analysis detected appreciable differences in the degree of methyl-esterification (ME) of pectic polysaccharides. About 65% of galacturonic acid (GalpA) residues were methyl-esterified in floret tissues. Relative ME showed a basipetal decrease, from 94% in the upper stem to 51% in the lower-stem vascular tissues. The decrease was not related to a basipetal increase in glucuronic acid (GlcpA) residues. The monoclonal antibodies, JIM 5 and JIM 7, produced distinct labelling patterns for the relatively low-methylesterified and high-methyl-esterified pectin epitopes, respectively. Labelling was related to cell type and tissue location in the stem. Floret cell walls contained epitopes for both JIM 5 and JIM 7 throughout the wall. Stem vascular tissues labelled more strongly with JIM 5. Whereas pith parenchyma in the upper stem labelled more strongly with JIM 7, in the lower-stem pith parenchyma, JIM 5 labelling predominated. Localization of pectic polysaccharide epitopes in cell walls provides an insight into how structural modifications might relate to the textural and nutritional properties of cell walls.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brassica / metabolism*
  • Esterification
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Plant Stems / metabolism
  • Polysaccharides / metabolism*


  • Polysaccharides