Characterisation of lignin from parenchyma and sclerenchyma cell walls of the maize internode

Andrew Chesson, Gordon Provan, Wendy Roslyn Russell, Lorraine Scobbie, B Chabbert, B Monties

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30 Citations (Scopus)


Internodes of maize (Zea mays L, Co125), harvested 5 days after anthesis, were sectioned into five equal parts and samples of sclerenchyma and parenchyma cells mechanically isolated from each section. Phenolic acids and syringyl and guaiacyl degradation products of lignin were released from the walls of the two cell types by microwave digestion with 4 M NaOH. Aryl ether bonded units were selectively released by thioacidolysis. Total phenolic content of cell walls from the youngest (basal) sections were approximately two-thirds of those of the oldest, topmost sections (parenchyma 70·8–99·0 and sclerenchyma 72·5–114·1 mg g-1) indicating that the process of lignification was already well advanced amongst most of the cell walls of the youngest section. The total phenolic content was marginally, but significantly, greater (P<0·05) in sclerenchyma walls than in parenchyma walls at all stages of maturity. There was no significant difference in phenolic acid concentrations between cell types from the same section but p-coumaric acid concentration increased with maturity (P<0·001) in walls from both cell types. The increase in p-coumarate with age was matched by an increased recovery of syringyl units resulting in a constant coumaroyl: syringyl molar ratio. Recovery of acetosyringone was significantly greater (P<0·001) from sclerenchyma than parenchyma walls and, in sclerenchyma, acetosyringone as a proportion of total syringyl recovery, increased significantly with age (P=0·015). Digestion with NaOH and thioacidolysis released comparable amounts of guaiacyl residues but NaOH digestion released approximately twice the amount of syringyl residues. This difference may be explained by the retention of the ester-bond between p-coumaric acid and syringyl units during thioacidolysis but not during digestion with 4 M alkali. The similarity in phenolic composition suggested that both cell types, despite their considerable anatomical differences, were exposed to a common flux of lignin precursors during the later stages of lignification as illustrated by the internode sections. Differences between cell walls arose because of differences in the regiochemistry of precursor incorporation. © 1997 SCI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-16
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Science of Food and Agriculture
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1997


  • Zea mays
  • parenchyma
  • sclerenchyma
  • cell walls
  • phenolic acids
  • ferulic acid
  • p-coumaric acid
  • lignin
  • microwave digestion
  • 4 M NaOH
  • thioacidolysis
  • syringyl/guaiacyl ratio


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