Santa Cells
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Evolution shaped the internal beauty of plants

Santa Cells
Image by Oliver Leroux.

As plants embraced the terrestrial lifestyle, they underwent a range of adaptations to increase their size and stature as well as to facilitate transport of water and/or solutes. These vegetative innovations, which include the development of vascular and mechanical tissues, increased the anatomical complexity of plants. Such specialization is reflected in the design of the cell walls which surround plant cells in each tissue and fulfill a wide range of roles that are fundamental to plant life. A recently published Special Issue of Annals of Botany features papers focusing on a diverse range of topics pertaining to cell wall diversity and evolution, as well as to cell wall biosynthesis and remodelling.

Plant microscopists take advantage of cell wall diversity and through combination of dyes with affinities for specific cell wall architectures and specialized optics one can display the beauty of the internal structure of plants. The Christmas-inspired image is composed of transverse sections of Equisetum arvense stem (eyes), Acorus calamus root (nose) and Apium graveolens petiole (mouth).

Editor’s Note: You can read Oliver Leroux’s review article Collenchyma: a versatile mechanical tissue with dynamic cell walls for free at Annals of Botany.

Oliver Leroux

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