Journal of experimental botany

Studying microstructure and microstructural changes in plant tissues by advanced diffusion magnetic resonance imaging techniques.

PMID 28398563


As sessile organisms, plants must respond to the environment by adjusting their growth and development. Most of the plant body is formed post-embryonically by continuous activity of apical and lateral meristems. The development of lateral adventitious roots is a complex process, and therefore the development of methods that can visualize, non-invasively, the plant microstructure and organ initiation that occur during growth and development is of paramount importance. In this study, relaxation-based and advanced diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) methods including diffusion tensor (DTI), q-space diffusion imaging (QSI), and double-pulsed-field-gradient (d-PFG) MRI, at 14.1 T, were used to characterize the hypocotyl microstructure and the microstructural changes that occurred during the development of lateral adventitious roots in tomato. Better contrast was observed in relaxation-based MRI using higher in-plane resolution but this also resulted in a significant reduction in the signal-to-noise ratio of the T2-weighted MR images. Diffusion MRI revealed that water diffusion is highly anisotropic in the vascular cylinder. QSI and d-PGSE MRI showed that in the vascular cylinder some of the cells have sizes in the range of 6-10 μm. The MR images captured cell reorganization during adventitious root formation in the periphery of the primary vascular bundles, adjacent to the xylem pole that broke through the cortex and epidermis layers. This study demonstrates that MRI and diffusion MRI methods allow the non-invasive study of microstructural features of plants, and enable microstructural changes associated with adventitious root formation to be followed.