Microscopy and Microanalysis

Biological Applications

Transmission Electron Microscopy, Fluorescence Microscopy, and Confocal Raman Microscopic Analysis of Ultrastructural and Compositional Heterogeneity of Cornus alba L. Wood Cell Wall

Jianfeng Maa1, Zhe Jia1, Xia Zhoua1, Zhiheng Zhanga1 and Feng Xua1a2 c1 p1

a1 Institute of Biomass Chemistry and Technology, Beijing Forestry University, 100083 Beijing, China

a2 College of Light Industry and Textiles, Qiqihar University, 161006 Qiqihar, China


Transmission electron microscopy (TEM), fluorescence microscopy, and confocal Raman microscopy can be used to characterize ultrastructural and compositional heterogeneity of plant cell walls. In this study, TEM observations revealed the ultrastructural characterization of Cornus alba L. fiber, vessel, axial parenchyma, ray parenchyma, and pit membrane between cells, notably with the ray parenchyma consisting of two well-defined layers. Fluorescence microscopy evidenced that cell corner middle lamella was more lignified than adjacent compound middle lamella and secondary wall with variation in lignification level from cell to cell. In situ Raman images showed that the inhomogeneity in cell wall components (cellulose and lignin) among different cells and within morphologically distinct cell wall layers. As the significant precursors of lignin biosynthesis, the pattern of coniferyl alcohol and aldehyde (joint abbreviation Lignin-CAA for both structures) distribution in fiber cell wall was also identified by Raman images, with higher concentration occurring in the fiber secondary wall where there was the highest cellulose concentration. Moreover, noteworthy was the observation that higher concentration of lignin and very minor amounts of cellulose were visualized in the pit membrane areas. These complementary microanalytical methods provide more accurate and complete information with regard to ultrastructural and compositional characterization of plant cell walls.

(Received June 02 2012)

(Accepted October 02 2012)

Key words

  • Cornus alba L.;
  • TEM;
  • confocal Raman microscopy;
  • ultrastructure;
  • components distribution


c1 Corresponding author. E-mail: xfx315@bjfu.edu.cn

p1 Current address: Institute of Material Science and Technology, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing, 100083, China