Mentha ×piperita

Today concludes the UBC research series. We still have a few outstanding entries, but we’ll add them to the general mix. Ruth continues with the series:

Dr. Lacey Samuels is an Assistant Professor in the UBC Department of Botany. Her research initiatives mainly focus on plant cell biology and the secretion of the cell wall.

Heather McFarlane is a PhD candidate from Dr. Samuels’ lab and she writes:
“The picture above is a cryo-scanning electron micrograph of mint (Mentha ×piperita) leaf surface (scale bar = 100 micrometers). Mint secretes essential oils into glands (G) on the surface of its leaves. These glandular trichomes are distinct from other types of trichomes, such as hairs (H). In nature, mint essential oils may serve to protect the plant against insect and other herbivores. Commercially, these oils are employed in a variety of products. In the Samuels lab, we study lipid export, using mint essential oil export to glandular trichomes as one model system.”

“We also study lipid export using Arabidopsis thaliana and Sorghum bicolor as model systems. Cryo-SEM allows us to freeze cells that are actively exporting essential oils, and to examine these cells at high magnification. This helps us gain insight into the possible mechanisms of lipid export to and from plant cells.”

Mentha ×piperita

18 responses to “Mentha ×piperita”

  1. Annie Morgan

    An alien world!!

  2. Meg Bernstein

    Wow, such complexity! Thanks.

  3. Mary

    Wow. Just wow.

  4. Adriana

    So some look like secretions (G) and some look like diffrientiated cells that are part of the secretions (not labeled but looking like glands with dents in them). So I am curious if the lipids are excreted through the labeled part (G) or if that is a drop of the essential oil and the glands are another part? Just wondering but not really sure I’ll get some answer!

  5. Adriana

    Sorry about the typo! Should have read it before hitting the button. “differentiated ”

  6. Helen

    Great photo! Wonderful website. Thanks for sharing your botanical treasure chest with us each day.

  7. ingrid

    Stunning photograph, thanks.

  8. susan

    Fascinating! Thanks

  9. Janice

    Mint tea is my favorite drink. Know I can visualize where the wonderful aroma and taste comes from. Plants are amazing. So is the micro imaging. Wonderful site, Always makes my day with a touch of plant life.

  10. Heather McFarlane

    Hi Adriana. Good eye picking out the unusual looking glands!
    The things that look a bit like glands, but have dents in them (sort of like a basketball) are glands that are still in the process of filling with essential oil. The glands are made of eight cells each. All eight cells secrete their oils into a common “pool” on top of the cells. The whole thing is surrounded by the cuticle, which holds the eight-celled gland and the essential oil together.
    Thanks to everyone else for your comments!
    – Heather

  11. Ian Sturges

    A couple more questions: 1) am I seeing stomata on the leaf surface, and 2) do the non glandular trichromes consist of three to four cylindrical cells emphasized by the “bands” encircling the hairs. A wonderful shot especially the lighting. Thanks

  12. phillip

    Wow..!…who would ever have thought that the fuzzy leaf of mint would could hold such secrets…
    i just love electron micrographs.
    another note…south eastren New Mexico had a 4 hour rain the night before…the first in about 9 months…the desert said ahhh…

  13. Caro

    Thanks for putting these series together, very interesting work!

  14. SoapySophia

    That is sooo amazing! The tiniest of things are often quite complex and gorgeous!

  15. Heather McFarlane

    Hi Ian.
    Yes, those are stomata. This picture is of the abaxial side (the underside) of the leaf, where there are many stomata. However, the adaxial surface (the top of the leaf) also has many glandular trichomes.
    And, yes, the non-glandualr trichome hairs are multicellular, unlike the Arabidopsis trichomes that were posted yesterday, which are single-celled and branched.

  16. elizabeth a airhart

    my mother always had a bed of mint
    where ever we lived
    thank you as always -heather is preety
    do you all not think

  17. elizabeth a airhart

    forgive i meant lacey

  18. Marta Ptaszyk

    What are these structeres, not labelled, smaller than the glands and the hairs. They look like small mushrooms or ice cream. They have a head. What is it? Please help me!

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