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Plasmodesmata

Plasmodesmata are controllable openings in plant cell walls which allow chemicals and small molecules to pass in both directions from a cell to its neighbours.

Every plant so far examined has plasmodesmata, suggesting that they must be crucial cellular components. It's known that they can operate in groups - opening up, or closing off, fluid-exchanging 'domains' within the plant.

But despite more than 100 years of research, the fundamental reasons why plasmodesmata open and close, how this controls cell-to-cell chemical 'traffic' are unknown.

Recent data suggests that plasmodesmata are tightly controlled during development and in response to environmental changes. There is increasing evidence that this regulation is controlled by proteins that have specific plasmodesmata-associated functions in stimulus perception and signalling. In addition, many viruses exploit plasmodesmata for cell-to-cell spread during infection and their encoded viral movement proteins manipulate the pores to facilitate this process."

Source : eLS (paywalled)(formerly known as the Encyclopedia of Life Sciences)

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