Plasmodesmata and intercellular molecular traffic control.

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Plasmodesmata are plasma membrane-lined connections that join plant cells to their neighbours, establishing an intercellular cytoplasmic continuum through which molecules can travel between cells, tissues, and organs. As plasmodesmata connect almost all cells in plants, their molecular traffic carries information and resources across a range of scales, but dynamic control of plasmodesmal aperture can change the possible domains of molecular exchange under different conditions. Plasmodesmal aperture is controlled by specialised signalling cascades accommodated in spatially discrete membrane and cell wall domains. Thus, the composition of plasmodesmata defines their capacity for molecular trafficking. Further, their shape and density can likewise define trafficking capacity, with the cell walls between different cell types hosting different numbers and forms of plasmodesmata to drive molecular flux in physiologically important directions. The molecular traffic that travels through plasmodesmata ranges from small metabolites through to proteins, and possibly even larger mRNAs. Smaller molecules are transmitted between cells via passive mechanisms but how larger molecules are efficiently trafficked through plasmodesmata remains a key question in plasmodesmal biology. How plasmodesmata are formed, the shape they take, what they are made of, and what passes through them regulate molecular traffic through plants, underpinning a wide range of plant physiology.