Scientific reports

Resonant soft X-ray scattering reveals cellulose microfibril spacing in plant primary cell walls.

PMID 30127533


Cellulose microfibrils are crucial for many of the remarkable mechanical properties of primary cell walls. Nevertheless, many structural features of cellulose microfibril organization in cell walls are not yet fully described. Microscopy techniques provide direct visualization of cell wall organization, and quantification of some aspects of wall microstructure is possible through image processing. Complementary to microscopy techniques, scattering yields structural information in reciprocal space over large sample areas. Using the onion epidermal wall as a model system, we introduce resonant soft X-ray scattering (RSoXS) to directly quantify the average interfibril spacing. Tuning the X-ray energy to the calcium L-edge enhances the contrast between cellulose and pectin due to the localization of calcium ions to homogalacturonan in the pectin matrix. As a consequence, RSoXS profiles reveal an average center-to-center distance between cellulose microfibrils or microfibril bundles of about 20 nm.

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