Palin, Robert John (2011)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
Mechanical properties of the plant cell wall are important in many industrial applications including biofuels, food quality and biotechnology. The plant cell wall consists of a network of cellulose microfibrils cross-linked with hemi-cellulose and interpenetrated by pectin. It is known that changes in the composition and architecture of the cell wall lead to detectable differences in the mechanical properties, but the relationship is not yet fully understood. In this work, three cell wall mutations of Arabidopsis thaliana, ida, mur1 and qua-2 (Snakeskin/sks), were compared to the Columbia (col0) wild type. Shoot and root growth were characterised to evaluate the effects of the mutations on plant growth. The ida mutation behaved like col0, with mur1 and sks showing increasingly severe effects of mutation on growth. Cells were also grown in suspension culture and an investigation of the wall components of both plant tissue and suspension cultured cells was conducted. An increase in pectin caused by the culturing process, and differences in cellulose content due to the mutations were found. The mean force required to break the suspension cultured cells (the rupture force) and deformation at rupture were obtained by compression testing. Force-deformation data from cell compressions were mathematically modelled up to deformations below the elastic limit of the cell walls, allowing the derivation of a low strain elastic modulus (E). Significant reductions in E for mur1 compared to col0 and ida and between sks compared to ida were observed. Similarities were drawn between the effects of genotype changes at both plant and single cell levels in that mur1 and sks were significantly different to ida and col0 for shoot, root and cell wall material properties.
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