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The assembly of cellulose microfibrils in Valonia macrophysa Kütz

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The assembly of cellulose microfibrils was investigated in artificially induced protoplasts of the alga, Valonia macrophysa (Siphonocladales). Primary-wall microfibrills, formed within 72 h of protoplast induction, are randomly oriented. Secondary-wall lamellae, which are produced within 96 h after protoplast induction, have more than three orientations of highly ordered microfibrils. The innermost, recently deposited micofibrils are not parallel with the cortical microtubules, thus indicating a more indirect role of microtubules in the orientation of microfibrils. Fine filamentous structures with a periodicity of 5.0–5.5 nm and the dimensions of actin were observed adjacent to the plasma membrane. Linear cellulose-terminal synthesizing complexes (TCs) consisting of three rows, each with 30–40 particles, were observed not only on the E fracture (EF) but also on P fracture (PF) faces of the plasma membrane. The TC appears to span both faces of the bimolecular leaflet. The average length of the TC is 350 nm, and the number of TCs per unit area during primary-wall synthesis is 1 per μm2. Neither paired TCs nor granule bands characteristic of Oocystis were observed. Changes in TC structure and distribution during the conversion from primary- to secondary-wall formation have been described. Cellulose microfibril assembly in Valonia is discussed in relation to the process among other eukaryotic systems.

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terminal complex


E (outer leaflet) fracture face of the plasma membrane


P (inner leaflet) fracture face of the plasma membrane




protoplasmic surface of the membrane


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Correspondence to R. Malcolm Brown Jr..

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Itoh, T., Brown, R.M. The assembly of cellulose microfibrils in Valonia macrophysa Kütz. Planta 160, 372–381 (1984). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00393419

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Key words

  • Cellulose microfibril synthesis
  • Chlorophyta
  • Terminal synthesizing complex
  • Valonia