American Journal of Botany 84(3): 336-342. 1997.
Eun Soo Kim & Paul G. Mahlberg
Department of Biology, Konkuk University, Seoul 143-701, Korea;
Department of Biology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA.
Keywords: Cannabis, glands, celluase, cytochemistry, secretory cavity
Delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) localization in glandular trichomes and bracteal tissues of Cannabis, prepared by high pressure cryofixation-cryosubstitution, was examined with a monoclonal antibody-colloidal gold probe by electron microscopy (EM). The antibody detected THC in the outer wall of disc cells during the presecretory cavity phase of gland development. Upon formation of the secretory cavity, the immunolabel detected THC in the disc cell wall facing the cavity as well as the subcuticular wall and cuticle throughout development of the secretory cavity. THC was detected in the fibrillar matrix associated with the disc cell and with this matrix in the secretory cavity. The antibody identified THC on the surface of secretory vesicles, but not in the secretory vesicles. Gold label also was localized in the anticlinal walls between adjacent disc cells and in the wall of dermal and mesophyll cells of the bract. Grains were absent or detected only occasionally in the cytoplasm of disc or other cells of the bract. No THC was detected in controls. These results indicate THC to be a natural product secreted particularly from disc cells and accumulated in the cell wall, the fibrillar matrix and surface feature of vesicles in the secretory cavity, the subcuticular wall, and the cuticle of glandular trichomes. THC, among other chemicals, accumulated in the cuticle may serve as a plant recognition signal to other organisms in the environment.