Development of Intra- and Interxylary Secondary Phloem in Coccinia indica (Cucurbitaceae)
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Stern anatomy and the development of intraxylary phloem were investigated in six to eight years old Coccinia indica L. (Cucurbitaceae). Secondary growth in the stems was achieved by the normal cambial activity. In the innermost part of the thicker stems, xylem parenchyma and pith cells dedifferentiated into meristematic cells at several points. In some of the wider rays, ray cells dedifferentiate and produce secondary xylem and phloem with different orientations and sometimes a complete bicollateral vascular bundle. The inner cambial segments of the bicollateral vascular bundle (of primary growth) maintained radial arrangement even in the mature stems but in most places the cambia were either inactive or showed very few cell divisions. Concomitant with the obliteration and collapse of inner phloem (of bicollateral vascular bundles), parenchyma cells encircling the phloem became meristematic forming a circular sheath of internal cambia. These internal cambia produce only intraxylary secondary phloem centripetally and do not produce any secondary xylem. In the stem, secondary xylem consisted mainly of axial parenchyma, small strands of thick-walled xylem derivatives, i.e. vessel elements and fibres embedded in parenchymatous ground mass, wide and tall rays along with exceptionally wide vessels characteristic of lianas. In thick stems, the axial parenchyma de-differentiated into meristem, which later re-differentiated into interxylary phloem. Fibre dimorphism and pseudo-vestured pits in the vessels are also reported.