Intrusive trichome bases in the leaves of silverleaf nightshade (Solanum elaeagnifolium Cav.) do not facilitate fluorescent tracer uptake.

Geoffrey Burrows, R. G. White, John Harper, R.D. Heady, Rex Stanton, Xiaocheng Zhu, Hanwen Wu, Deirdre Lemerle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


• Premise of the study Solanum elaeagnifolium (silverleaf nightshade), having originated in the Americas, is now a serious summer-growing perennial weed in many countries, including Australia. Most surfaces of the plants have a dense covering of trichomes, giving them a silvery-white appearance, hence the common name. We aimed to identify structural and functional properties of its leaves, especially the trichomes, that may affect foliar-applied tracer dyes.• Methods The structure of leaves of Solanum elaeagnifolium was examined by light and scanning electron microscopy. The potential for transport of materials between trichomes and veins was studied with symplastic (carboxyfluorescein diacetate) and apoplastic (lucifer yellow) tracer dyes.• Key results Mature leaves had a dense covering of complex, stellate trichomes on both surfaces, particularly the abaxial. The basal cells of Solanum elaeagnifolium trichomes penetrated into the underlying palisade mesophyll layers. The innermost lobes of these basal cells sometimes contacted the bundle sheath of the veins, but were not observed to directly contact the xylem or phloem. We found that neither symplastic nor apoplastic dyes were transferred between the basal cells of the trichomes and the vascular tissues. The trichome layer repelled water-based tracer dyes, while one of four adjuvants tested facilitated entry of both symplastic and apoplastic dyes.• Conclusions Our results did not support a transport function for the trichomes. The trichomes may protect the mesophytic leaves from invertebrate herbivory, while also probably decreasing radiation absorbed resulting in cooler leaves in this summer growing species.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2307-2317
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Botany
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


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