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Pericarp micromorphology and dehydration characteristics of Quercus suber L. acorns

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 February 2007

Eduardo Sobrino-Vesperinas*
Departamento Producción Vegetal, Bot´nica y Protección Vegetal, Escuela Técnica Superior Ingenieros Agrónomos, 28040 Madrid, Spain
Ana Belén Viviani
Departamento Producción Vegetal, Bot´nica y Protección Vegetal, Escuela Técnica Superior Ingenieros Agrónomos, 28040 Madrid, Spain
*Correspondence Fax: +34-915-498-482Email:


The aim of the present study was to examine the micromorphology of the cork-oak (Quercus suber) acorn and to evaluate the efficiency of the pericarp as a barrier to water loss. When the desiccation curve obtained at 25 ± 1°C and 62% RH for physiologically mature acorns collected from the tree was compared with that corresponding to fully ripe acorns which had been shed, the latter showed a slightly lower rate of water loss. A marked reduction in the mean rate of water loss was recorded for intact acorns compared with those from which the pericarp had been removed. The external surface and transverse sections of the pericarp from both mature and fully ripe acorns were examined by scanning electron microscopy. Two zones presenting morphological and micromorphological differences were identified: an area including the point of attachment to the cupule and an apical zone covering the embryo. The microstructure of the pericarp showed an external thick cuticle and a single external palisade layer of closely packed cells with no intercellular spaces. Underlying this layer, there was a further parenchymatous layer of poorly differentiated, roughly isodiametric cells. The pericarp in the cupular zone consisted of only this undifferentiated layer between the two epidermal cell layers and contained vascular bundles with many xylem elements.

Short Communication
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2000

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