Phloem is the vascular tissue in charge of transport and distribution of the organic nutrients. The phloem is also a pathway to signaling molecules and has a structural function in the plant body. It is typically composed of three cell types: sieve elements, parenchyma, and sclerenchyma. The sieve elements have the main function of transport and typically have lost their nuclei and other organelles in the course of their specialization. Hence, the sieve elements rely on specialized neighboring parenchyma cells to sustain all of their physiological function and activities. All cell types of the phloem may vary morphologically and in their distribution in the tissue, and this diversity is taxonomic and functionally informative. The phloem can be of primary or secondary origin, being derived from either procambium or cambium, respectively. Some vascular plant lineages have exclusive primary phloem, such as the lycophytes, ferns, and the monocotyledons, and the sieve elements will be long living in these taxa. In plants with secondary growth, the secondary phloem is formed, and typically the primary phloem collapses. Because new secondary phloem is constantly formed, the longevity of sieve elements in the secondary plant body is much more reduced. In this chapter, the structure of the phloem and its cell types are described in detail and also some of the known commercial uses of this tissue.
Part of the book: Plant Science