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Phytochemistry. 2001 Jul;57(6):811-21.

Approaches to understanding the functional architecture of the plant cell wall.

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Department of Cell Biology, John Innes Centre, Norwich Research Park, Colney, NR4 7UH, Norwich, UK.


Cell wall polysaccharides are some of the most complex biopolymers known, and yet their functions remain largely mysterious. Advances in imaging methods permit direct visualisation of the molecular architecture of cell walls and the modifications that occur to polymers during growth and development. To address the structural and functional relationships of individual cell wall components, we need to better characterise a broad range of structural and architectural alterations in cell walls, appearing as a consequence of developmental regulation, environmental adaptation or genetic modification. We have developed a rapid method to screen large numbers of plants for a broad range of cell wall phenotypes using Fourier transform infrared microspectroscopy and Principal Component Analysis. We are using model systems to uncover the genes that encode some of the cell-wall-related biosynthetic and hydrolytic enzymes, and structural proteins.

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