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Planta. 2002 May;215(1):33-40. Epub 2002 Feb 6.

Micromechanics of plant tissues beyond the linear-elastic range.

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Plant Biomechanics Group, Institut für Biologie III, Universität Freiburg, Schänzlestrasse 1, 79104 Freiburg, Germany.


We investigated the relation between cell wall structure and the resulting mechanical characteristics of different plant tissues. Special attention was paid to the mechanical behaviour beyond the linear-elastic range, the underlying micromechanical processes and the fracture characteristics. The previously proposed model of reorientation and slippage of the cellulose microfibrils in the cell wall [H.-CH. Spatz et al. (1999) J Exp Biol 202:3269-3272) was supported and is here refined, using measurements of the changes in microfibrillar angle during straining. Our model explains the widespread phenomenon of stress-strain curves with two linear portions of different slope and sheds light on the micromechanical processes involved in viscoelasticity and plastic yield. We also analysed the velocity dependence of viscoelasticity under the perspective of the Kelvin model, resolving the measured viscoelasticity into functions of a velocity-dependent and a velocity-independent friction. The influence of lignin on the above-mentioned mechanical properties was examined by chemical lignin extraction from tissues of Aristolochia macrophylla Lam. and by the use of transgenic plants of Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh. with reduced lignin content. Additionally, the influence of extraction of hemicelluloses on the mechanical properties was investigated as well as a cell wall mutant of Arabidopsis with an altered configuration of the cellulose microfibrils.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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