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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2024
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2024
  3. Although the phloem is a highly specialized tissue, certain pathogens, including phytoplasmas, spiroplasmas, and viruses, have evolved to access and live in this sequestered and protected environment, causing substantial economic harm. In particular, Candidatus Liberibacter spp. are devastating citrus in many parts of the world. Given that most phloem pathogens are vectored, they are not exposed to applied chemicals and are therefore difficult to control. Furthermore, pathogens use the phloem network to escape mounted defenses. Our review summarizes the current knowledge of phloem anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry relevant to phloem/pathogen interactions. We focus on aspects of anatomy specific to pathogen movement, including sieve plate structure and phloem-specific proteins. Phloem sampling techniques are discussed. Finally, pathogens that cause particular harm to the phloem of crop species are considered in detail. 
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  4. Symplasmicly connected cells called sieve elements form a network of tubes in the phloem of vascular plants. Sieve elements have essential functions as they provide routes for photoassimilate distribution, the exchange of developmental signals, and the coordination of defense responses. Nonetheless, they are the least understood main type of plant cells. They are extremely sensitive, possess a reduced endomembrane system without Golgi apparatus, and lack nuclei and translation machineries, so that transcriptomics and similar techniques cannot be applied. Moreover, the analysis of phloem exudates as a proxy for sieve element composition is marred by methodological problems. We developed a simple protocol for the isolation of sieve elements from leaves and stems of Nicotiana tabacum at sufficient amounts for large-scale proteome analysis. By quantifying the enrichment of individual proteins in purified sieve element relative to bulk phloem preparations, proteins of increased likelyhood to function specifically in sieve elements were identified. To evaluate the validity of this approach, yellow fluorescent protein constructs of genes encoding three of the candidate proteins were expressed in plants. Tagged proteins occurred exclusively in sieve elements. Two of them, a putative cytochrome b561/ferric reductase and a reticulon-like protein, appeared restricted to segments of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) that were inaccessible to green fluorescent protein dissolved in the ER lumen, suggesting a previously unknown differentiation of the endomembrane system in sieve elements. Evidently, our list of promising candidate proteins ( SI Appendix , Table S1 ) provides a valuable exploratory tool for sieve element biology. 
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  6. Differentiating sieve elements in the phloem of angiosperms produce abundant phloem-specific proteins before their protein synthesis machinery is degraded. These P-proteins initially form dense bodies, which disperse into individual filaments when the sieve element matures. In some cases, however, the dense protein agglomerations remain intact and are visible in functional sieve tubes as non-dispersive P-protein bodies, or NPBs. Species exhibiting NPBs are distributed across the entire angiosperm clade. We found that NPBs in the model tree,Populus trichocarpa, resemble the protein bodies described from other species of the order Malpighiales as they all consist of coaligned tubular fibrils bundled in hexagonal symmetry. NPBs of all Malpighiales tested proved unresponsive to sieve tube wounding and Ca2+. TheP. trichocarpaNPBs consisted of a protein encoded by a gene that in the genome database of this species had been annotated as a homolog ofSEOR1(sieve element occlusion-related 1) inArabidopsis. Sequencing of the gene in our plants corroborated this interpretation, and we named the genePtSEOR1. Previously characterized SEOR proteins form irregular masses of P-protein slime in functional sieve tubes. We conclude that a subgroup of these proteins is involved in the formation of NPBs at least in the Malpighiales, and that these protein bodies have no role in rapid wound responses of the sieve tube network.

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