The Growing Outer Epidermal Wall: Design and Physiological Role of a Composite Structure
Author: Kutschera, U.
Source: Annals of Botany, Volume 101, Number 5, 7 April 2008 , pp. 615-621(7)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Abstract:BackgroundThe cells of growing plant organs secrete an extracellular fibrous composite (the primary wall) that allows the turgid protoplasts to expand irreversibly via wall-yielding events, which are regulated by processes within the cytoplasm. The role of the epidermis in the control of stem elongation is described with special reference to the outer epidermal wall (OEW), which forms a tensile skin.Novel FactsThe OEW is much thicker and less extensible than the walls of the inner tissues. Moreover, in the OEW the amount of cellulose per unit wall mass is considerably greater than in the inner tissues. Ultrastructural studies have shown that the expanding OEW is composed of a highly ordered internal and a diffuse outer half, with helicoidally organized cellulose microfibrils in the inner (load-bearing) region of this tension-stressed organ wall. The structural and mechanical backbone of the wall consists of helicoids, i.e. layers of parallel, inextensible cellulose microfibrils. These plywood laminates contain crystalline cables orientated in all directions with respect to the axis of elongation (isotropic material). Cessation of cell elongation is accompanied by a loss of order, i.e. the OEW is a dynamic structure. Helicoidally arranged extracellular polymers have also been found in certain bacteria, algae, fungi and animals. In the insect cuticle crystalline cutin nanofibrils form characteristic OEW-like herringbone patterns.ConclusionsTheoretical considerations, in vitro studies and computer simulations suggest that extracellular biological helicoids form by directed self-assembly of the crystalline biopolymers. This spontaneous generation of complex design without an intelligent designer evolved independently in the protective skin of plants, animals and many other organisms.
Document Type: Research article
Publication date: 2008-04-07
- Annals of Botany is an international plant science journal with editorial offices in Australia, China, Japan, Mainland Europe, UK and USA. It is published monthly in both electronic and printed forms with at least one extra issue each year that focuses on a particular theme in plant biology. The Journal is managed by the Annals of Botany Company, a not-for-profit educational charity established to promote plant science worldwide.