Prof. Paul Knox


Visit the Knox lab website

Plant Cell Walls

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.

A current list of monoclonal antibodies directed to plant cell walls can be downloaded here.


Alternating images of of an intact Arabidopsis seed labelled with a fluorescently-tagged anti-xyloglucan monoclonal antibody and combined with cellulose detected in the mucilage and cell walls of the seed surface by Calcofluor

Section across Arabidopsis stem. Cycling images showing Calcofluor binding to cellulose, binding of a FITC-tagged xylan antibody and combined image.

Xyloglucan in the thickened cell walls of cotyledon of a tamarind seed.

A specific pectic epitope (green) marks the point of cell separation at intercellular spaces. Cellulosic cell walls are blue.