Plant development involves constant adjustments of the cell wall composition and structure in response to both internal and external stimuli. Cell walls are composed of cellulose and non-cellulosic polysaccharides together with proteins, phenolic compounds and water. 90% of the cell wall is composed of polysaccharides (e.g., pectins) and arabinogalactan proteins (AGPs). The fluorescent immunolocalization of specific glycan epitopes in plant histological sections remains a key tool to uncover remodeling of wall polysaccharide networks, structure and components.
Here, we report an optimized fluorescent immunolocalization procedure to detect glycan epitopes from AGPs and pectins in plant tissues. Paraformaldehyde/glutaraldehyde fixation was used along with LR-White embedding of the plant samples, allowing for a better preservation of the tissue structure and composition. Thin sections of the embedded samples obtained with an ultra-microtome were used for immunolocalization with specific antibodies. This technique offers great resolution, high specificity, and the chance to detect multiple glycan epitopes in the same sample. This technique allows subcellular localization of glycans and detects their level of accumulation in the cell wall. It also permits the determination of spatio-temporal patterns of AGP and pectin distribution during developmental processes. The use of this tool may ultimately guide research directions and link glycans to specific functions in plants. Furthermore, the information obtained can complement biochemical and gene expression studies.