Plant & cell physiology

The matrix polysaccharide (1;3,1;4)-β-D-glucan is involved in silicon-dependent strengthening of rice cell wall.

PMID 25392067


Poales [represented by rice (Oryza sativa L.)] in angiosperms and Equisetum (horsetails) in Pteridophytes are two major groups of heavy silicon (Si) accumulators. In rice, Si is polymerized preferentially in the epidermal cell wall, forming Si-cuticle double layers and Si-cellulose double layers beneath the cuticle. This Si layer is thought to exert various beneficial effects on the growth and development of land plants. Although the recent discovery of the influx and efflux transporters of silicic acid has shed some light on the molecular mechanisms of Si uptake and transport in rice, the mechanism underlying the final incorporation of polymerized Si into the cell wall remains elusive. Despite their phylogenetic distance, the cell walls of the two Si accumulators, Poales and Equisetum, share another common component, i.e. (1;3,1;4)-β-D-glucan, also known as mixed-linkage glucan (MLG), a matrix polysaccharide not found in other plants. Based on this coincidence, a possible correlation between the functions of Si and MLG in the cell wall has been suggested, but no experimental evidence has been obtained in support of this functional correlation. Here, we present an analysis of the correlative action of Si and MLG on the mechanical properties of leaf blades using a transgenic rice line in which the MLG level was reduced by overexpressing EGL1, which encodes (1;3,1;4)-β-D-glucanase. The reduction in MLG did not affect total Si accumulation, but it significantly altered the Si distribution profile and reduced the Si-dependent mechanical properties of the leaf blades, strongly suggesting a functional correlation between Si and MLG.

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