, Volume 180, Issue 1–2, pp 70–81 | Cite as

Cholesteric-like crystal analogs in glucuronoxylan-rich cell wall composites: Experimental approach of acellular re-assembly from native cellulosic suspension

  • B. Vian
  • D. Reis
  • D. Darzens
  • J. C. Roland


Many plant cell walls are constructed according to a helicoidal pattern that is analog to a cholesteric liquid crystal order. This raises the question whether the wall assembly passes through a true but temporary liquid crystal state. The paper focuses on experiments performed from aqueous suspensions of extracted quince slime, i.e., a cellulose/glucuronoxylan wall composite that presents a helicoidal order when observed in situ, within the enlarged periplasm of the seed epidermal cells. Experiments carried out in acellular conditions showed that a spontaneous reassociation into a helicoidal order can be obtained from totally dispersed suspensions. The ultrastructural aspect of the reassembled mucilage suspension was different according to the resin used (LR White or nanoplast, a water-soluble melamin resin). It was always typically polydomain, and when an order was visible it was cholesteric-like and similar to the in situ native organization. Transition states with many imperfections expressed the difficulty of the system to reassemble in the absence of constraining surfaces. The possible intervention of glucuronoxylan (GX) in the ordered assembly of the microfibrils was checked by: (1) progressive extraction of GX by trifluoroacetic acid (TFA). The extraction was associated to a control of the fraction by analysis of uronic acid contents and observation at the electron microscope level. Extraction of GX provoked the formation of a flocculent mass, the flocculation being more intense when the TFA was more concentrated; (2) progressive change of pH in order to analyze the influence of pH on flocculation. Low pH (ca. pH 3) led also to a flocculation of the suspension, but the floc was reversibly lost after dialysis against distilled water. The results indicate the antifloc role of the GX due to the anionic charges carried by the side-chains. However, the function of GX as helper twisting agent in the cholesteric-like reassembly must not be ruled out.


Cell wall Cellulose/glucuronoxylan Acellular assembly Cholesteric analog 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. Vian
    • 1
  • D. Reis
    • 1
  • D. Darzens
    • 2
  • J. C. Roland
    • 3
  1. 1.Laboratoire de Pathologie VégétaleInstitut National AgronomiqueParis Cedex 05France
  2. 2.Laboratoire de Photorégulation et Dynamique des Membranes VégétalesCNRS, Ecole Normale SupérieureParis
  3. 3.Laboratoire de Cytologie Expérimentale et Morphogenèse VégétaleUniversité Pierre et Marie CurieFrance

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