, Volume 221, Issue 3, pp 309–312 | Cite as

Plant cell wall polysaccharide biosynthesis: real progress in the identification of participating genes

  • Rachel A. Burton
  • Naser Farrokhi
  • Antony Bacic
  • Geoffrey B. Fincher
Progress Report


Plant cell walls are comprised of cellulosic microfibrils embedded in a matrix of complex non-cellulosic polysaccharides, which generally include pectic polysaccharides, xyloglucans and heteroxylans as major constituents and heteromannans as minor constituents (Bacic et al. 1988). However, primary walls in grasses and commercially important cereals of the graminaceous monocotyledons are characterized by relatively low levels of pectic polysaccharides and xyloglucans; the major non-cellulosic polysaccharides in these species are glucuronoarabinoxylans and (1→3,1→4)-β-d-glucans (Smith and Harris 1999). Smaller amounts of protein, phenolic acids and glycoproteins are present in the walls of most plants, callose is detectable in some walls, and lignin is often found after secondary thickening.

Here, we review recent progress towards the characterization of genes that encode enzymes responsible for the biosynthesis of major wall polysaccharides, and consider emerging...


Cell walls Cellulose synthase-like genes Functional genomics Genetic approaches Polysaccharide biosynthesis 



This work was supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation and the Australian Research Council. We thank Keith Gatford and Neil Shirley for invaluable assistance in several aspects of the work.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rachel A. Burton
    • 1
  • Naser Farrokhi
    • 1
  • Antony Bacic
    • 2
  • Geoffrey B. Fincher
    • 1
  1. 1.Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics, School of Agriculture and WineUniversity of AdelaideGlen OsmondAustralia
  2. 2.Plant Cell Biology Research Centre, School of BotanyUniversity of MelbourneVICAustralia

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