Latest knowledge on plant cell-wall biology in new book

December 04, 2003

ITHACA, N.Y. -- The wall of a plant cell is no longer just a biological bulwark. It is a critical component in science.

To update other biologists with fresh information about plant cell walls, Jocelyn Rose, a Cornell University assistant professor of plant biology, has edited a new book, The Plant Cell Wall , published by Blackwell Publishing. "This book is especially appropriate given the recent completion of the first plant-genome sequencing projects and our entry into the 'post-genomic' era," said Rose, who joined the Cornell faculty as part of the university's Genomics Initiative. "Such breakthroughs have given an exciting glimpse into the substantial size and diversity of the families of genes encoding cell wall-related proteins."

In his own laboratory, Rose and his colleagues focus on the structure, function and metabolism of plant cell walls and also their pivotal role in fending off pathogens. "Cell walls represent a major frontier in plant biotechnology, reflected in their importance in a broad range of plant-derived products, contributing to the food, fiber and material science industries," he said. "In addition to their critical importance for plants, they influence so many aspects of our daily life, such as structural materials in paper and wood, fuel, clothing in the form of cotton and, of course, nutrition -- that all important dietary fiber."

In the last few years, biological science has developed fresh analytical tools used in molecular biology, biochemistry, spectroscopy, microscopy, immunology, genomics and proteomics. They are used to investigate plant cell-wall structure and function. The high resolution of these tools was impossible to imagine a few years ago, said Rose. "But the emergence of plant-cell research has resulted in a growing awareness of the critical role of plant cell walls in a broad range of developmental events, adding strength and diversity to cell wall-related scientific research." An overview of current knowledge on the subject, the book examines the rapidly growing number of genes and proteins responsible for plant cell-wall synthesis, restructuring, degradation and wall-associated signal transduction. And it also addresses the following topics: the composition and structure of plant primary cell walls, biophysical characteristics of plant cell walls, molecules as probes for cell-wall analysis, plant cell-wall biosynthesis, expansion of the plant cell wall, cell-wall disassembly and plant cell walls in the post-genomic era.
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Cornell University

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