Molecular investigation of the stem snap point in textile hemp


M. Behr, S. Legay, J.-F. Hausman, S. Lutts, and G. Guerriero


Genes, vol. 8, no. 12, art. no. 363, 2017


Fibre crops are important natural resources, as they sustainably provide bast fibres, an economically-valuable raw material used in the textile and biocomposite sectors. Among fibre crops, textile hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) is appreciated for its long and strong gelatinous bast fibres. The stem of fibre crops is a useful system for cell wall-oriented studies, because it shows a strong tissue polarity with a lignified inner core and a cellulosic hypolignified cortex, as well as a basipetal lignification gradient. Along the stem axis of fibre crops, a specific region, denoted snap point, marks the transition from elongation (above it) to fibre thickening (below it). After empirically determining the snap point by tilting the plant, we divided the stem segment containing it into three non-overlapping consecutive regions measuring 1 cm each, and carried out targeted RT-qPCR on cell wall-related genes separately, in outer and inner tissues. Different gene clusters can be observed, two of which are the major gene groups, i.e., one group with members expressed at higher levels in the inner tissues, and one group whose genes are more expressed in the cortex. The present results provide a molecular validation that the snap point is characterised by a gradient of events associated with the shift from fibre elongation to thickening.



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