However, recent work from the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Plant Biology and Stanford University describes the first real-time observations of cellulose fiber formation. The research, published in the April 20 online issue of Science Express, provides the first clear evidence for a functional connection between synthesis of the cell wall and an array of protein fibers--called microtubules--that help to shape growing plant cells from the inside.
Molecules of cellulose synthase, the enzyme that produces cellulose, follow microtubule “tracks” in growing plant cells. Each image in this set consists of 30 frames, taken at 10 second intervals ...
"The more we understand about cellulose, the easier it will be to modify it," said Chris Somerville, director of the Carnegie department. "With this knowledge, we are one step closer to designing energy-rich biofuel crops and improved fiber crops."
Cellulose fibers make up a significant portion of the dry weight of most plants. Because the fibers can be broken down into the sugar glucose, which can then be converted into ethanol and other biofuels, there are huge incentives to learn more about how plants produce and modify the molecule. Cellulose is also the main constituent of cotton, paper, wood, and animal feeds such as hay.
Somerville, along with colleague David Ehrhardt and Stanford graduate student Alex Paredez, engineered plants to produce a fluorescent version of cellulose synthase, the enzyme that creates cellulose fibers. They also included a fluorescent version of tubulin, the protein from which microtubules are built. Using an imaging technique that can track the motion of single fluorescent molecules, the researchers found that cellulose synthase moves along "tracks" defined by the microtubules. When the microtubule tracks were disrupted with specific drugs, the cellulose synthase molecules kept moving, but they followed different, less directed patterns.
"Many scientists had suspected a relationship between cellulose synthase and microtubules, but the exact nature of the interaction was hard to pinpoint," Ehrhardt said. "The microtubules act as more than a general scaffold for organizing the cell wall; individual elements of the microtubule array appear to actively direct the pattern of the cellulose fibers. This work should set a long-standing discussion to rest."
Dr. Chris Somerville | EurekAlert!
Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München
Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences