Structural development of aleurone and its function in common wheat.
The wheat aleurone is formed from surface endosperm cells, and its developmental status reflects its biogenesis, structural characteristics, and physiological functions. In this report, wheat caryopses at different development stages were embedded in Spurrs low-viscosity embedding medium for observation of the development of aleurone cells (ACs) by light microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and fluorescence microscopy, respectively. According to their structures and physiological characterization, the ACs development process was divided into five stages: endosperm cellulization, spherosome formation, aleurone grain formation, filling material proliferation, and maturation. Furthermore, ACs in different parts of the caryopsis formed differently. ACs near the vascular bundle developed earlier and formed transfer cells, but other ACs formed slowly and did not form transfer cells. ACs on the caryopsis backside were a regular square shape; however, ACs in the caryopsis abdomen were mainly irregular. There were also differences in development between wheat varieties. ACs were rectangular in hard wheat but square in soft wheat. ACs were larger and showed a greater degree of filling in hard compared to soft wheat. The storage materials in ACs were different compared to inner endosperm cells (IECs). The concentrations of minerals such as sodium, magnesium, silicon, phosphorus and potassium were higher in ACs than in IECs. ACs contained many aleurone grains and spherosomes, which store lipids and mineral nutrients, respectively. The cell nucleus did not disappear and the cells were still alive during aleurone maturation. However, IECs were dead and mainly contained amyloplast and protein bodies, which store starch and protein, respectively. Overall, the above results characterized major structural features of aleurone and revealed that the wheat aleurone has mainly four functions.