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Open AccessArticle

Self-Repair in Cacti Branches: Comparative Analyses of Their Morphology, Anatomy, and Biomechanics

by Max D. Mylo 1,2,*,†, Friederike Krüger 1,3,†, Thomas Speck 1,2,4 and Olga Speck 1,2
1
Plant Biomechanics Group, Botanic Garden, Faculty of Biology, University of Freiburg, Schänzlestraße 1, D-79104 Freiburg, Germany
2
Cluster of Excellence livMatS @ FIT—Freiburg Center for Interactive Materials and Bioinspired Technologies, University of Freiburg, Georges-Köhler-Allee 105, D-79110 Freiburg, Germany
3
Laboratory for Chemistry and Physics of Interfaces (CPI) Department of Microsystems Engineering—IMTEK, University of Freiburg, Georges-Köhler-Allee 103, D-79110 Freiburg, Germany
4
Freiburg Materials Research Center (FMF), University of Freiburg, Stefan-Meier-Straße 21, D-79104 Freiburg, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(13), 4630; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21134630
Received: 6 June 2020 / Revised: 24 June 2020 / Accepted: 27 June 2020 / Published: 29 June 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Biomechanics)
Damage-repair is particularly important for the maintenance of the water-storing abilities of succulent plants such as cacti. Comparative morphological, anatomical, and biomechanical analyses of self-repair were performed on artificially wounded branches of Opuntia ficus-indica and Cylindropuntia bigelovii. Macroscopic observations, contrast staining, and lignin-proof staining were used to investigate morphological and anatomical responses after wounding at various time intervals. Two-point bending tests were repeatedly performed on the same branches under unwounded, freshly wounded, and healed conditions by using customized 3D-printed clamping jaws. Morphologically, both species showed a rolling-in of the wound edges, but no mucilage discharge. Anatomically, ligno-suberized peridermal layers developed that covered the wound region, and new parenchyma cells formed, especially in O. ficus-indica. In all samples, the wounding effect directly after damage caused a decrease between 18% and 37% in all the tested mechanical parameters, whereas a positive healing effect after 21 days was only found for C. bigelovii. Based on our data, we hypothesize a high selection pressure on the restoration of structural integrity in the wound area, with a focus on the development of efficient water-retaining mechanisms, whereas the concept of “sufficient is good enough” seems to apply for the restoration of the mechanical properties. View Full-Text
Keywords: Opuntia ficus-indica; Cylindropuntia bigelovii; Opuntioideae; damage management; self-healing; wounding effect; healing effect; bending test; 3D printing Opuntia ficus-indica; Cylindropuntia bigelovii; Opuntioideae; damage management; self-healing; wounding effect; healing effect; bending test; 3D printing
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Mylo, M.D.; Krüger, F.; Speck, T.; Speck, O. Self-Repair in Cacti Branches: Comparative Analyses of Their Morphology, Anatomy, and Biomechanics. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21, 4630.

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