The retention of rigid, polysaccharide-based walls at the surface of plant cells has significant impacts upon the nature of plant growth and development. We are interested in how the components of these diverse, complex fibrous composites contribute to growth phenomena and how they function in processes such as cell expansion and cell adhesion. One of our major strategies for understanding plant cell wall functions is the generation and use of defined monoclonal antibodies and other probes to cell wall glycan components. These molecular probes are invaluable tools for the imaging of cell wall architectures and for determining the spatial- and developmental-regulation of cell wall polymers. Moreover, such probes are essential to define alterations to cell walls in response to physiological factors, mutations or growth conditions.
Current interests include: the application of microbial carbohydrate-binding modules (CBMs) as probes for cell wall polymers; primary cell wall functions in cell expansion and cell adhesion; cell biology of arabinogalactan-proteins, xylans, xyloglucans, mannans & pectic polysaccharides; and cell walls in relation to land plant evolution. We are also interested in cell walls in the contexts of plant fibres and sources of sustainable biofuels.
Details about our work can be found at the Paul Knox Lab website http://www.personal.leeds.ac.uk/~bmbjpk