The Mechanics of Plant Growth

Simple sugars help give strength to plant cell walls, study finds

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WEDNESDAY, Jan. 28, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Simple sugars play a crucial role in maintaining the strength of plant cell walls during growth, says a Purdue University study in the January issue of Plant Physiology.

"This is a really fundamental discovery in the mechanics of plant growth that eventually could have several practical applications," researcher Nick Carpita, a botany and plant pathology professor at Purdue, says in a prepared statement.

"These could include controlling crop plant size and shape, improving desirable textural properties of fruits and vegetables, and enhancing nutritional fibers in plant cell walls without changes in other plant structural factors," Carpita says.

He explains that plant cell walls are composed of minute plant fibers interlaced with many different chains of sugars, or polymers. While he and his colleagues were researching how cells walls change as plants develop, they discovered that an enzyme requires a simple milk sugar, called galactose, to replace polymers during plant growth.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about plant cells.

SOURCE: Purdue University, news release, January 2004

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