The differentiation of the specialized secretory teat cells of the leaf cavity pore of Azolla species was investigated at the ultrastructural level with emphasis on their peculiar cell wall projections. The results indicated that the projections are formed as soon as the teat cells complete their differentiation and that their production is principally associated with changes in endoplasmic reticulum profiles. The number of projections increases with the teat cell age and is stimulated under salt and P deficiency stresses. Salt stress also promotes their emergence on Azolla species that under normal conditions do not produce projections. Cytochemical tests on different Azolla species showed that the projection composition is almost identical: proteins, acidic polysaccharides, and pectin are always detected. This study revealed that Azolla teat cell projections differ fundamentally from other types of hitherto described cell wall projections that are considered as remnant structures from cell separation. In contrast, in Azolla teat cells projections are actively produced and compounds are excreted by an exocytotic mechanism. The possible role of the projections in the symbiosis of Azolla spp. with Anabaena azollae is discussed.
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