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Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2008 Jun;11(3):308-13. doi: 10.1016/j.pbi.2008.03.001.

Revealing the structural and functional diversity of plant cell walls.

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Centre for Plant Sciences, Faculty of Biological Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom.


The extensive knowledge of the chemistry of isolated cell wall polymers, and that relating to the identification and partial annotation of gene families involved in their synthesis and modification, is not yet matched by a sophisticated understanding of the occurrence of the polymers within cell walls of the diverse cell types within a growing organ. Currently, the main sets of tools that are used to determine cell-type-specific configurations of cell wall polymers and aspects of cell wall microstructures are antibodies, carbohydrate-binding modules (CBMs) and microspectroscopies. As these tools are applied we see that cell wall polymers are extensively developmentally regulated and that there is a range of structurally distinct primary and secondary cell walls within organs and across species. The challenge now is to document cell wall structures in relation to diverse cell biological events and to integrate this knowledge with the emerging understanding of polymer functions.

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