Structural Integrity of Vascular System in Branching Units of Coniferous Shoot

Alicja Banasiak, Beata Zagórska-Marek


In conifers with spiral phyllotaxis, two numbers: one of the vascular sympodia and the second of cortical resin canals, define the shoot anatomic diameter. This in turn reflects the size and vigor of the apical meristem. Both numbers belong to the mathematical series, associated with the shoot phyllotactic pattern. The number of canals is one step lower in a series than the number of sympodia. The first one, easier to determine, automatically defines the second. Using this protocol and screening the large number of branching shoots of selected conifers, we have discovered strong correlation between orientation of vascular sympodia in the lateral and supporting branches. There was no such correlation with regard to the chiral configurations of phyllotaxis. This finding reveals the presence of special phyllotactic compensation in the case of differences in anatomic diameter of the parental and lateral shoot under the imperative of maintaining the sympodia orientation within one branching unit. Phyllotaxis of the axillary apex is evidently not established at random but adapted to the condition of the subtending axis. The monopodial, regularly branching shoot of conifers is an attractive example of biological system, which is not a sum of independent, iteratively formed units. Rather, it appears to be an entity organized on hierarchically higher level, which emerges from coordination of developmental processes in a population of the units.


phyllotaxis; shoot branching; vascular patterns; Picea; Abies; Cedrus; modular growth; homodromy; antidromy

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