Mechanical stress and lignification

Tony Travis ajt at
Thu Apr 2 13:41:08 EST 1992

karen at (Karen Snetselaar) writes:
: [...]
: I don't know of experiments that demonstrate lignification in response
: to mechanical stress, but clearly plants grown where there is no wind are
: very susceptible to wind damage.  On breezy days I can hardly get my
: greenhouse-grown maize plants from the greenhouse into the lab without
: the stems getting broken.  You could find out if lignification is involved
: by comparing the amounts of lignin extracted from plants grown in still
: air with amounts from plants grown with wind blowing on them.

That's interesting Karen, but I would have difficulty separating the
effects of wind on plant water relations from the purely mechanical
effect of moving the stems around.

We've spent a lot of time extracting lignin from plants here, but what
really matters is where the lignin is deposited and whole plant studies
or studies of plant parts (leaf, stem etc) have proved very difficult
to interpret.  Because of this, we are now looking in more detail at
the anatomy of different varieties.

: [...]
: Lignification is a common plant response to various abiotic 
: stresses like needles sticks and abrasions as well as to pathogens
: and insects.  Histological techniques are often used to document
: lignin deposition.  Lignin is autofluorescent (so are some other common
: cell-wall components) and there are some stains that are more-or-less
: selective for lignin.  These sorts of techniques are useful for
: monitoring localized lignification, but it seems to me they wouldn't
: be so useful for answering your question.  The pulp and paper people 
: extract lignin all the time; maybe that's the place to look for techniques. 

I am, actually, interested in (and investigating) the localisation of
lignification.  I'm working on image analysis techniques to quantify
the differences between varieties and I started posting to this group
in order to make contact with other people using image analysis in
plant science.


    Tony Travis <ajt at>  | Dr. A.J.Travis 
                                      | Rowett Research Institute,
                                      | Greenburn Road, Bucksburn, Aberdeen,
                                      | AB2 9SB. UK. tel 0224-712751

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