The aerial organs of the Arabidopsis plant are covered with single-celled hairs called trichomes. These trichomes contain 3-4 branches and exhibit raised structures on their cell wall, called papillae. The composition and mechanism of formation of these trichome papillae are unknown though the presence of trichome papillae is observed to scatter incoming light and is theorized to be a means of photoprotection for the plant. Our laboratory studies a set of Arabidopsis mutants called glassy hair mutants, which exhibit trichomes that lack papillae structures on their cell wall and have a smooth surface. Our goal is to understand the underlying metabolic process leading to papillae formation on trichome cell walls. Using scanning electron microscopy, we can visualize the papillae on trichome cells (cyan) growing on a leaf (green). This image shows a wild-type trichome with papillae throughout the surface of its cell wall on a leaf embedded in cryo gel.
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