Pear sclereids or stone cells (Pyrus sp.), SEM

Pear sclereids or stone cells (Pyrus sp.), SEM

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Credit: DENNIS KUNKEL MICROSCOPY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Pear fruit (Pyrus sp.) sclerenchyma cells, coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM). Shown here is a section through a pear fruit revealing a cluster of sclereids, also known as stone cells. Sclereids are cells composed of thick cell walls that surround only a very small central cell cavity. The thick cell walls consist of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin (a few thin walled parenchyma cells are also present). The small holes within the cell wall layers are called plasmodesmata. Mature sclerenchyma is composed of dead cells with extremely thick cell walls (secondary walls) that make up to 90% of the whole cell volume. Sclerenchyma fibres are of great economical importance, since they constitute the source material for many fabrics (flax, hemp, jute, ramie). Magnification: x160 when shortest axis printed at 25mm.

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