BACKGROUND: In previous research, two alfalfa clonal lines (252 and 1283) were identified that exhibited environmentally stable differences in stem cell walls. Compared with stems of 1283, stems of 252 have a higher cell wall concentration and greater amounts of lignin and cellulose but reduced levels of pectic sugar residues. These results suggest greater deposition of secondary xylem and a reduction in pith in stems of 252 compared with 1283. RESULTS: The stem morphology and anatomy of first-cut and second-cut harvests of field-grown 1283 and 252 were examined. For both harvests, stems of 1283 were thicker and had a higher leaf/stem ratio compared with stems of 252. Stem cross-sections of both genotypes were stained for lignin, and the proportions of stem area that were pith and secondary xylem were measured using ImageJ. Stems of 252 exhibited greater deposition of secondary xylem and a reduction in pith proportion compared with stems of 1283 for the first-cut harvest, but this difference was not statistically significant for the second-cut harvest. CONCLUSION: The results indicate that the proportions of secondary xylem and pith are not environmentally stable in these two genotypes and hence cannot be the sole basis for the differences in cell wall concentration/composition.
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- Cell wall
- Medicago sativa
- Secondary xylem