Tensional stress generation in gelatinous fibres: a review and possible mechanism based on cell-wall structure and composition

J Exp Bot. 2012 Jan;63(2):551-65. doi: 10.1093/jxb/err339. Epub 2011 Nov 16.


Gelatinous fibres are specialized fibres, distinguished by the presence of an inner, gelatinous cell-wall layer. In recent years, they have attracted increasing interest since their walls have a desirable chemical composition (low lignin, low pentosan, and high cellulose contents) for applications such as saccharification and biofuel production, and they have interesting mechanical properties, being capable of generating high tensional stress. However, the unique character of gelatinous layer has not yet been widely recognized. The first part of this review presents a model of gelatinous-fibre organization and stresses the unique character of the gelatinous layer as a separate type of cell-wall layer, different from either primary or secondary wall layers. The second part discusses major current models of tensional stress generation by these fibres and presents a novel unifying model based on recent advances in knowledge of gelatinous wall structure. Understanding this mechanism could potentially lead to novel biomimetic developments in material sciences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Wall / chemistry*
  • Cellulose / chemistry
  • Gelatin / chemistry
  • Models, Biological
  • Plant Roots / chemistry
  • Plant Stems / chemistry*
  • Plant Stems / metabolism
  • Plants, Genetically Modified
  • Tensile Strength


  • Gelatin
  • Cellulose