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J Microsc. 2012 Jul;247(1):23-32. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2818.2011.03585.x. Epub 2011 Dec 15.

Microtubule and cellulose microfibril orientation during plant cell and organ growth.

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Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, John Innes Centre, Colney, Norwich, UK.


In this review, I ask the question of what is the relationship between growth and the orientations of microtubules and cellulose microfibrils in plant cells. This should be a relatively simple question to answer considering that text books commonly describe microtubules and cellulose microfibrils as hoops that drive expansion perpendicular to their orientation. However, recent live imaging techniques, which allow microtubules and cellulose synthase dynamics to be imaged simultaneously with cell elongation, show that cells can elongate with nonperpendicular microtubule arrays. In this review, I look at the significance of these different microtubule arrangements for growth and cell wall architecture and how these resultant walls differ from those derived from perpendicular arrays. I also discuss how these divergent arrays in stems may be important for coordinating growth between the different cell layers. This role reveals some general features of microtubule alignment that can be used to predict the growth status of organs. In conclusion, nonperpendicular arrays demonstrate alternative ways of cell elongation that do not require hooped arrays of microtubules and cellulose microfibrils. Such nonperpendicular arrays may be required for optimal growth and strengthening of tissues.

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