Scientists have mapped changes in the composition of plant cell walls over space and time, providing new insights into the development and growth of all plants. The work represents a first step towards precision-breeding to enhance the properties of plant-based products such as timber and biofuels. Conducted by an international research team using the model laboratory plant Arabidposis, the study was published online on May 19, 2016 in the journal Current Biology. The article is titled “Regulation of Meristem Morphogenesis by Cell Wall Synthases in Arabidopsis.” The cell wall is a defining feature of plant cells, providing essential functions like strength and mechanical support to plant tissues. The cell wall is also associated with cellular function, including enabling the plant to grow and to sense and respond to developmental cues and environmental stresses such as pathogen invasion. Plant cell walls are also the main component of plant biomass, our only renewable bioenergy resource, and are consumed by humans as a component of food - dietary fiber. "Despite their importance to society, we currently know very little about how these walls are built and refined during plant development" said study co-author Dr. Monika Doblin from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls situated within the School of Biosciences at the University of Melbourne in Australia. "We used three sophisticated techniques to generate a spatiotemporal map of plant cell wall development in the shoot apical meristem (SAM), the structure that gives rise to all above-ground tissues in plants," added Dr. Doblin.
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