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Carbohydr Polym. 2012 Oct 1;90(2):1081-91. doi: 10.1016/j.carbpol.2012.06.047. Epub 2012 Jun 21.

Properties of cellulose/pectins composites: implication for structural and mechanical properties of cell wall.

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INRA, UR 1268 Unité Biopolymères Interactions Assemblages, F-44300 Nantes, France.


The primary cell wall of dicotyledonous plants can be considered as a concentrated polymer assembly, containing in particular polysaccharides among which cellulose and pectins are known to be the major components. In order to understand and control the textural quality of plant-derived foods, it is highly important to elucidate the rheological and microstructural properties of these components, individually and in mixture, in order to define their implication for structural and mechanical properties of primary plant cell wall. In this study, the rheological and microstructural properties of model systems composed of sugar-beet microfibrillated cellulose and HM pectins from various sources, with varied degrees of methylation and containing different amounts of neutral sugar side chains, were investigated. The influence of the presence of calcium and/or sodium ions and the biopolymer concentrations on the properties of the mixed systems were also studied. The characterizations of the mixed system, considered as a simplified model of primary plant cell wall, showed that whatever the structural characteristics of the pectins, the ionic conditions of the medium and the biopolymer concentrations, the gelation of the composite was mainly controlled by cellulose. Thus, the cellulose network would be the principal component governing the mechanical properties of the cell walls. However, the neutral sugar side chains of the pectins seem to play a part in the interactions with cellulose, as shown by the interesting viscoelastic properties of cellulose/apple HM pectins systems. The rigidity of cellulose/pectins composite was strongly influenced by the structural characteristics of pectins. The particular properties of primary plant cell walls would thus result from the solid viscoelastic properties of cellulose, its interactions with pectins according to their structural characteristics (implication of the neutral sugar side chains and the specific potential calcic interactions) and of the distribution of the components in separate phases.

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