Structural and component characterization of meristem cells in <i>Araucaria angustifolia</i> (Bert.) O. Kuntze zygotic embryo
Araucaria angustifolia , the Brazilian pine, is an endangered native conifer with economic and ecological importance. The female cone develops seeds containing the zygotic embryo, which, at cotyledonary stage, shows well-developed meristems. Little is known about the structure of gymnosperm meristems. In the present work, the composition and morphological organization of Araucaria angustifolia shoot and root apical meristems were studied during embryo development, using histochemical and microscope analyses. Histochemical evaluation revealed the presence of cellulose within the cell wall, cells with the presence of total proteins that react with Coomassie Brilliant Blue, starch grains, and large nuclei with evident nucleoli in the cytoplasm. Scanning electron microscopy showed apical meristem surface morphology, and both scanning and transmission microscopy revealed a thin and irregular cell wall with plasmodesmata and within the cells, mitochondria, many vacuoles, lipid bodies, Golgi bodies, and many amyloplasts with endoplasmic reticulum surrounding them and large nuclei. Similar to angiosperm cells, A . angustifolia meristem cells exhibit pluripotent characteristics, such as apparatus for intercellular communication and differentiation.