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One of the defining features of plants is a body plan based on the physical properties of cell walls. Structural analyses of the polysaccharide components, combined with high-resolution imaging, have provided the basis for much of the current understanding of cell walls. The application of genetic methods has begun to provide new insights into how walls are made, how they are controlled, and how they function. However, progress in integrating biophysical, developmental, and genetic information into a useful model will require a system-based approach.