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- Pauly, M., Gille, S., Liu, L. et al. Planta (2013) 238: 627. doi:10.1007/s00425-013-1921-1
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One major component of plant cell walls is a diverse group of polysaccharides, the hemicelluloses. Hemicelluloses constitute roughly one-third of the wall biomass and encompass the heteromannans, xyloglucan, heteroxylans, and mixed-linkage glucan. The fine structure of these polysaccharides, particularly their substitution, varies depending on the plant species and tissue type. The hemicelluloses are used in numerous industrial applications such as food additives as well as in medicinal applications. Their abundance in lignocellulosic feedstocks should not be overlooked, if the utilization of this renewable resource for fuels and other commodity chemicals becomes a reality. Fortunately, our understanding of the biosynthesis of the various hemicelluloses in the plant has increased enormously in recent years mainly through genetic approaches. Taking advantage of this knowledge has led to plant mutants with altered hemicellulosic structures demonstrating the importance of the hemicelluloses in plant growth and development. However, while we are on a solid trajectory in identifying all necessary genes/proteins involved in hemicellulose biosynthesis, future research is required to combine these single components and assemble them to gain a holistic mechanistic understanding of the biosynthesis of this important class of plant cell wall polysaccharides.