ISSN 1021-4437, Russian Journal of Plant Physiology, 2008, Vol. 55, No. 3, pp. 378–384. © Pleiades Publishing, Ltd., 2008.
Original Russian Text © N.A. Galibina, E.N. Terebova, 2008, published in Fiziologiya Rastenii, 2008, Vol. 55, No. 3, pp. 419–425.
The plant cell wall is a complex multicomponent
system whose composition varies during the cell cycle,
growth, and development. Ion-exchange processes in
cell walls have long been a matter of interest. In some
studies devoted to acid–base properties of cell walls in
herbaceous plants [1–3], the cell walls were considered
as weakly basic cation exchangers with a low cross-
linking degree. The authors distinguished four types of
ion-exchange groups, three of which were cation-
exchanging groups (carboxylic groups of two types,
with one attributed to
-D-galacturonic acid, and a phe-
nolic group), and the fourth was the anion-exchanging
group [1, 2]. A number of publications were dedicated
to impact of various stress factors (pollutants, tempera-
ture, salinity) on properties of plant cell walls [4–13].
The data obtained in these studies suggest that the plant
tolerance to high concentrations of heavy metals is
directly related to tissue capacity of accumulating met-
als in cell walls [7, 10–12], this capacity being a limit-
ing factor. The industrial pollution of the environment
was found to elevate the content of cell wall polysac-
charides [5, 8, 13] that bind heavy metal ions by car-
boxylic, hydroxylic, and amine groups [4, 6, 9].
Although cell walls properties of herbaceous plants
are widely discussed in the literature, there are almost
no studies on the role of cell walls in tolerance of
woody plants to changing environmental conditions,
particularly, pollutions. Under conditions of environ-
mental pollution, trees can be divided into four vigor
classes according to their responses to anthropogenic
impact. Four classes of plant vigor—from healthy
plants (vigor class I) to drying plants (vigor class IV)—
are usually distinguished by visual inspection of mor-
phological traits (biometric characteristics of needles,
chloroses, and necroses) . Any morphological alter-
ations are preceded by biochemical changes at the cel-
lular and organismal levels. Cell walls represent the
ﬁrst barrier that hinders the penetration of air pollutants
into the cell.
Based on this reasoning, the aim of this work was to
study the inﬂuence of industrial sulfur and heavy metal
pollution on cell walls of needles in pine trees from dif-
ferent vigor classes.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Plant samples were collected from Scotch pines
L.) growing in the Lapland nature
reserve, 30 km from Severonikel industrial complex.
The type of biogeocenosis was bilberry and baneberry
pine forest, with 1 : 10 birch to pine tree ratio in the
stand; trees were 80–60 years old; 3-year-old needles
were used. The Lapland nature reserve is located in the
Characterization of Cell Wall Properties in Needles
from Scotch Pine Trees of Various Vigor
N. A. Galibina
and E. N. Terebova
Institute of Forestry, Karelian Research Center, Russian Academy of Sciences,
Pushkinskaya ul. 11, Petrozavodsk, Karelia, 185610 Russia;
Petrozavodsk State University, Petrozavodsk, Karelia, Russia
Received February 19, 2007
— Ion-exchange properties of needle cell walls were studied on healthy and severely weakened
Scotch pine (
L.) trees subjected to industrial pollutions with sulfur and heavy metals. Three
types of cation-exchange groups were identiﬁed: carboxylic groups of polygalacturonic acid, carboxylic groups
unrelated to polygalacturonic acid, and phenolic OH-groups. The needles of impaired trees (vigor state IV) dif-
fered from needles of healthy plants (vigor state I) by a higher coefﬁcient of cell wall swelling, higher nitrogen
content, and lower content of ion-exchanging groups in the cell wall structure. It is supposed that differences in
ion-exchange capacity of cell walls could be among the causes for distribution of pine trees into several groups
according to their vigor.
Key words: Pinus sylvestris - cell wall - ion-exchange capacity - swelling coefﬁcient - vigor classes - environ-
: PGUA—polygalacturonic acid.