Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2008, Vol. 32 ›› Issue (4): 873-882.DOI: 10.3773/j.issn.1005-264x.2008.04.016

• Original article • Previous Articles     Next Articles


YAN Qiao-Di1,2, SU Pei-Xi1, CHEN Hong-Bin1,2, ZHANG Ling-Mei1,2   

  1. 1Linze Inland River Basin Research Station, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, China
    2Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2007-04-03 Accepted:2007-11-19 Online:2008-04-03 Published:2008-07-30


Aims Tissue cells that are specialized to produce crystals are referred to as crystal idioblasts. Crystal composition is predominantly calcium oxalate. Calcium oxalate crystal formation in plants appears to play a central role in a variety of important functions. Our aims are to study the occurrence, structures and functions of crystal idioblasts in C4desert plants and assess the significance of crystal idioblasts in their drought resistance.

Methods We selected five C4desert plants whose photosynthetic organs are greatly deformed in appearance and structure. We investigated anatomical structures in desert plants Salsola collinaandS. arbuscula and compared differences of assimilating shoots among Haloxylon ammodendron, H. persicum and Calligonum mongolicum using light microscopy. We identified crystals by using histochemical method and energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) and observed crystal microstructures under a scanning electron microscope.

Important findings Crystal idioblasts exist in all five species, but there are differences in their distribution, position, amount, size and configuration. Haloxylon persicumand H.ammodendronhave the most crystal idioblasts. Salsola arbusculahas fewer crystals existing between palisade tissues and epidermal cells. The fewest crystals exist in the water-storage tissue ofS. collina. The crystals are in the water-storage tissue or near the palisade tissue in Calligonum mongolicum. The study of different parts of assimilating shoots among H.ammodendron, H. persicum and C.mongolicum shows that in H.ammodendron the base has the most crystals, fewer in middle, least in top; in H. persicum the top of assimilating shoots has the most crystals, fewer in middle and base; there are more mucilage cells in top and base ofC.mongolicum and fewer in middle; the base has few palisade tissue cells but developed vascular tissues. Histochemical and EDS results indicated that crystal nature of H.ammodendron, H. persicum, C.mongolicum and S.arbusculais calcium oxalate. Among the five plants, H. persicumand H.ammodendronhave the most crystal idioblasts, but there are mucilage cells in assimilating shoots of C.mongolicum.

Key words: desert plant, Kranze anatomy, crystal idioblast, Haloxylon persicum, Haloxylon ammodendron, Calligonum mongolicum, Salsola arbuscula, Salsola collina