PerspectivePlant Science

Another brick in the wall

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Science  09 Oct 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6257, pp. 156-157
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad3200

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Summary

Plant biomass is essential for humans and animals and is of great importance as a raw material for many industries, including food, feed, biomaterial, and fuel (see the image). The bulk of a plant's biomass resides in a carbohydrate-enriched extracellular matrix that surrounds every plant cell. Growing plant cells are encased in an elastic primary cell wall that dictates the direction of cell expansion (see the first figure, panel A). A durable and rigid secondary wall is deposited around cells that need extra support for their function, such as water-transporting vessels and fiber cells in plant stems (see the first figure, panel B). On page 198 of this issue, Watanabe et al. (1) provide a comprehensive cell biology study of how secondary wall cellulose is synthesized in plants.