Current and future advances in fluorescence-based visualization of plant cell wall components and cell wall biosynthetic machineries

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Plant cell wall-derived biomass serves as a renewable source of energy and materials with increasing importance. The cell walls are biomacromolecular assemblies defined by a fine arrangement of different classes of polysaccharides, proteoglycans, and aromatic polymers and are one of the most complex structures in Nature. One of the most challenging tasks of cell biology and biomass biotechnology research is to image the structure and organization of this complex matrix, as well as to visualize the compartmentalized, multiplayer biosynthetic machineries that build the elaborate cell wall architecture. Better knowledge of the plant cells, cell walls, and whole tissue is essential for bioengineering efforts and for designing efficient strategies of industrial deconstruction of the cell wall-derived biomass and its saccharification. Cell wall-directed molecular probes and analysis by light microscopy, which is capable of imaging with a high level of specificity, little sample processing, and often in real time, are important tools to understand cell wall assemblies. This review provides a comprehensive overview about the possibilities for fluorescence label-based imaging techniques and a variety of probing methods, discussing both well-established and emerging tools. Examples of applications of these tools are provided. We also list and discuss the advantages and limitations of the methods. Specifically, we elaborate on what are the most important considerations when applying a particular technique for plants, the potential for future development, and how the plant cell wall field might be inspired by advances in the biomedical and general cell biology fields.

Original languageEnglish
Article number78
JournalBiotechnology for Biofuels
Issue number1
Number of pages26
Publication statusPublished - 2021

    Research areas

  • Anti-glycan antibodies, Aptamers, Carbohydrate-binding modules, Cell wall probes, Click chemistry, Fluorescence microscopy, Genetic probes, Lambodies, Live cell imaging, Nanobodies, Plant cell wall architecture, Superresolution microscopy

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