The nature of phloem loading of photosynthesis products – either symplastic or apoplastic – has been a matter of debate over the last two decades. This controversy was reconciled by proposing a multiprogrammed loading mechanism. Different modes of phloem loading were distinguished on the basis of the variety of plasmodesmatal connectivity between the minor vein elements. Physiological evidence for at least two phloem loading mechanisms as well as recent support for coincidence between plasmodesmatal connectivity and the loading mechanism is shortly reviewed. The present paper attempts to correlate the plasmodesmatal connectivity between sieve element/companion cell complex and the adjacent cells (the minor vein configuration) – and implicitly the associate phloem loading mechanisms – with different types of climate. The minor vein configuration is a family characteristic. This enables one to relate vein configuration with ecosystem using the family distribution over the globe. The uneven distribution of vein types between terrestrial ecosystems indicates that apoplastic phloem loading predominates in cold and dry climate zones. Projection of the minor vein configuration on the Takhtajan system of flowering plants suggests evolution from apoplastic to symplastic phloem loading. Accordingly, the distribution of minor vein configurations suggests that drought and temperature stress have led to the transformation of the ancient symplastic mode into the more advanced apoplastic mode of loading.
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