Non-Cellulosic Polysaccharides in Grass Cell Walls

The Science

In addition to cellulose, plant cell walls contain non-cellulosic polysaccharides composed of the sugars glucose and xylose that provide another potential fermentation feedstock for biofuels production. Unique to grasses, the mixed-linkage (1→3),(1→4)-ß-D-glucan is a non-cellulosic polysaccharide that appears in growing tissues and accumulates in the cell walls, but until now it has not been clear where these compounds are actually polymerized within the plant. Researchers at Purdue University have now determined that this polymer is synthesized within the membranes of the Golgi, a cellular organelle that processes and packages these macromolecules and then exports them to the cell wall plasma membrane where they bond to cellulose microfibrils. Understanding the complete structure and architecture of the plant cell wall and the biosynthesis of all its component polysaccharides will enable scientists to optimize biomass quality and quantity for biofuel production.

Principal Investigator

Nicholas C. Carpita
Purdue University

BER Program Manager

Kari Perez

U.S. Department of Energy, Biological and Environmental Research (SC-33)
Biological Systems Science Division
[email protected]


Carpita, N. C. and McCann, M. C. 2010. “The Maize Mixed-Linkage (1→3),(1→4)-ß-D-Glucan Polysaccharide is Synthesized at the Golgi Membrane,” Plant Physiology 153(3), 1362–71. DOI:10.1104/pp.110.156158.