Prof. Paul Knox


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Plant Cell Walls & Root Exudates

The retention of rigid, polysaccharide-based walls at the surface of plant cells has 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 polysaccharides secreted by plant roots. We are using our established panels of monoclonal antibodies to study the roles of polysaccharide root exudates in plant-soil interactions and the formation of rhizosheaths.

Details about our work can be found at the Paul Knox Lab website.


Print of xyloglucan, a component of polysaccharide root exudates, secreted by intact Arabidopsis seedlings when grown on solid media. Seedlings removed before nitrocellulose sheet was pressed against the solid growth medium.

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.