Lipids and lipolytic enzymes in the trunkwood of Robinia pseudoacacia L. during heartwood formation: I. Radial distribution of lipid classes

Claudia Hillinger, Wolfgang Höll, Hubert Ziegler

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The radial distribution of membrane and storage lipids was determined in the trunkwood of Robinia pseudoacacia L. The trees were felled in November at the time of heartwood formation and fluctuations in the amount and composition of phospholipids, free sterols, steryl esters, di- and triacylglycerols, and free fatty acids were investigated across the sapwood- heartwood boundary. The individual compounds were identified and quantified by thin layer chromatography, enzymatic and colorimetric assays, and by capillary gas chromatography. Phospholipids show a significant decrease towards the boundary area, and in the heartwood only trace amounts can be detected. The same pattern is observed for free sterols in the sapwood; in the heartwood, however, they reach maximum values with increasing depth of the trunk. Steryl esters exhibit a complementary behaviour by accumulating at the periphery of the heartwood. No concentration changes are found in the total amounts of diacylglycerols and free fatty acids. In contrast, the triacylglycerol concentration declines steadily across the trunk. With regard to qualitative composition, free fatty acids and the fatty acid moieties of the esterified constituents vary in their chain length from 14 to 24 carbon atoms and have up to three double bonds. A radial gradient in the ratio saturated/unsaturated fatty acids can be observed: except for the phospholipid fraction the relative amounts of unsaturated fatty acids increase in centripetal direction. Seven phospholipids were identified: phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylserine, phosphatidylethanolamine, phosphatidylglycerol, phosphatidylinositol, diphosphatidylglycerol, and phosphatidic acid, which constitutes the major proportion. In the sterol group, sitosterol is the most abundant component. The composition of the esterified sterols remains constant across the trunk cross- section, whereas the relative frequencies of individual free sterols change markedly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)366-375
Number of pages10
JournalTrees - Structure and Function
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1996


  • Acyllipids
  • Heartwood formation
  • Phospholipids
  • Robinia pseudoacacia L.
  • Sterols


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