Mechanical properties of primary plant cell wall analogues

Planta. 2002 Oct;215(6):989-96. doi: 10.1007/s00425-002-0783-8. Epub 2002 Jun 18.


Mechanical effects of turgor pressure on cell walls were simulated by deforming cell wall analogues based on Acetobacter xylinus cellulose under equi-biaxial tension. This experimental set-up, with associated modelling, allowed quantitative information to be obtained on cellulose alone and in composites with pectin and/or xyloglucan. Cellulose was the main load-bearing component, pectin and xyloglucan leading to a decrease in modulus when incorporated. The cellulose-only system could be regarded as an essentially linear elastic material with a modulus ranging from 200 to 500 MPa. Pectin incorporation modified extensibility properties of the system by topology/architecture changes of cellulose fibril assemblies, but the cellulose/pectin composites could still be described as a linear elastic material with a modulus ranging from 120 to 250 MPa. The xyloglucan/cellulose composite could not be modelled as a linear elastic material. Introducing xyloglucan into a cellulose network or a cellulose/pectin composite led to very compliant materials characterised by time-dependent creep behaviour. Modulus values obtained for the composite materials were compared with mechanical data found for plant-derived systems. After comparing bi-axial and uni-axial behaviour of the different composites, structural models were proposed to explain the role of each polysaccharide in determining the mechanical properties of these plant primary cell wall analogues.

MeSH terms

  • Acetobacter / chemistry
  • Acetobacter / physiology
  • Acetobacter / ultrastructure
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cell Wall / chemistry*
  • Cell Wall / physiology
  • Cell Wall / ultrastructure
  • Cellulose / metabolism*
  • Cellulose / ultrastructure
  • Elasticity
  • Glucans*
  • Microfibrils / metabolism*
  • Microfibrils / ultrastructure
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Models, Biological
  • Osmotic Pressure
  • Pectins / metabolism
  • Plants / chemistry*
  • Plants / ultrastructure
  • Polysaccharides / metabolism
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Xylans*


  • Glucans
  • Polysaccharides
  • Xylans
  • xyloglucan
  • Pectins
  • Cellulose