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Plant Cell Walls
The rigid structures at the surface
of plant cells are some of the most structurally complex & mechanically
robust sets of biomaterials in nature. Given the dominance of plants
on land, these cell walls are highly abundant and are a major repository
of fixed carbon and form the bulk of the Earth's biomass.
Plant cell walls and their component polymers are used extensively
for food, textiles, paper, lumber and industrial polymers as well
as a sustainable form of bioenergy.
Our research interests are focused on
plant cell walls in relation to plant cell development
& growth as well as their use in applied & industrial contexts.
We are specifically interested in developing tools to understand
primary cell wall structures & architectures in
relation to cell adhesion,
cell expansion & the differentiation of plant cells. We are
also interested in
secondary cell wall structures
and properties in growing plants as well as in relation to their
use as industrial fibres.
We maintain, and continue to develop, a
panel of rat hybridoma & phage display
monoclonal antibodies to plant cell wall
glycans to help in our studies of cell walls and for the imaging of cell wall
molecular architectures. We also use
carbohydrate-binding modules (CBMs) from microbial glycoside hydrolases as
molecular probes for cell wall polymers.
Immunochemistry is a major
tool in our
strategies and procedures to explore cell wall
properties and functions. Our antibodies and CBMs are also being
assembled for use in high throughput, systematic
procedures for cell wall analyses including
epitope detection chromatography (EDC) which uses
our panels of molecular probes and detection tools for
chromatographic separations of cell wall matrix glycans.