An oil body is a lipid-containing structure found in plant cells. The term can refer to at least two distinct kinds of structures in different kinds of plants.
Oil bodies in liverworts
Liverwort oil bodies are structures unique to liverworts that contain isoprenoid essential oils and are surrounded by a single membrane. The size, shape, color, and number of oil bodies per cell is characteristic of certain species and may be used to identify these.
Oil bodies in vascular plants
Some species of vascular plants also contain intracellular structures called oil bodies. Vascular plant oil bodies consist mainly of triacylglycerols surrounded by a layer consisting of phospholipids and the protein oleosin. These oil bodies occur largely in seeds but also occur in other plant parts, including leaves.
Microscopic views of liverwort cells, showing a variety of oil body shapes and arrangements.
Nardia scalaris, a leafy liverwort
Ptilidium ciliare, a leafy liverwort
Metzgeria furcata, a thallose liverwort
- Suire et al. Cellular Localization of Isoprenoid Biosynthetic Enzymes in Marchantia polymorpha. Uncovering a New Role of Oil Bodies. Plant Physiology November 2000 vol. 124 no. 3 971-978. doi:10.1104/pp.124.3.971
- Tzen & Huang. Surface structure and properties of plant seed oil bodies. Journal of Cell Biology 1992 vol. 117 no. 2 327-335 doi:10.1083/jcb.117.2.327
- Lersten et al. Oil bodies in leaf mesophyll cells of angiosperms: overview and a selected survey. American Journal of Botany. 1 December 2006 vol. 93 no. 12 1731-1739. doi:10.3732/ajb.93.12.1731
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