, Volume 237, Issue 3, pp 739–754 | Cite as

Arabinose-rich polymers as an evolutionary strategy to plasticize resurrection plant cell walls against desiccation

  • John P. Moore
  • Eric E. Nguema-Ona
  • Mäite Vicré-Gibouin
  • Iben Sørensen
  • William G.T. Willats
  • Azeddine Driouich
  • Jill M. Farrant
Original Article


A variety of Southern African resurrection plants were surveyed using high-throughput cell wall profiling tools. Species evaluated were the dicotyledons, Myrothamnus flabellifolia and Craterostigma plantagineum; the monocotyledons, Xerophyta viscosa, Xerophyta schlecterii, Xerophyta humilis and the resurrection grass Eragrostis nindensis, as well as a pteridophyte, the resurrection fern, Mohria caffrorum. Comparisons were made between hydrated and desiccated leaf and frond material, with respect to cell wall composition and polymer abundance, using monosaccharide composition analysis, FT-IR spectroscopy and comprehensive microarray polymer profiling in combination with multivariate data analysis. The data obtained suggest that three main functional strategies appear to have evolved to prepare plant cell walls for desiccation. Arabinan-rich pectin and arabinogalactan proteins are found in the resurrection fern M. caffrorum and the basal angiosperm M. flabellifolia where they appear to act as ‘pectic plasticizers’. Dicotyledons with pectin-rich walls, such as C. plantagineum, seem to use inducible mechanisms which consist of up-regulating wall proteins and osmoprotectants. The hemicellulose-rich walls of the grass-like Xerophyta spp. and the resurrection grass E. nindensis were found to contain highly arabinosylated xylans and arabinogalactan proteins. These data support a general mechanism of ‘plasticising’ the cell walls of resurrection plants to desiccation and implicate arabinose-rich polymers (pectin-arabinans, arabinogalactan proteins and arabinoxylans) as the major contributors in ensuring flexibility is maintained and rehydration is facilitated in these plants.


Arabinans Arabinogalactan proteins Arabinoxylans Cell wall profiling Resurrection plants 



Alcohol insoluble residue


Comprehensive microarray polymer profiling


Carbohydrate binding module


Monoclonal antibody


Fourier transform-infrared spectroscopy












Arabinogalactan protein


Xyloglucan transhydrolase


Xyloglucan endotransglycosylase



Our thanks go to Borakalalo National Park for donation of X. humilis, John and Sandy Burrows and Elizabeth Parker (Lydenberg district) for donation of C. wilmsii and X. viscosa, and Rupert and Tanya Baber (Waterberg district) for donation of M. flabellifolia, Professor Martin Kidd (Centre for Statistical Consultation, Stellenbosch University) is thanked for help and discussions on statistical data analysis. We would like to thank Jonatan Fangel (University of Copenhagen, Denmark) for help with the CoMPP figure artwork. The work was supported by grants to Jill Farrant from the Harry Oppenheimer Trust Foundation and University of Cape Town.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • John P. Moore
    • 1
  • Eric E. Nguema-Ona
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mäite Vicré-Gibouin
    • 2
  • Iben Sørensen
    • 3
    • 5
  • William G.T. Willats
    • 3
  • Azeddine Driouich
    • 2
  • Jill M. Farrant
    • 4
  1. 1.Institute for Wine Biotechnology, Department of Viticulture and Oenology, Faculty of AgriSciencesStellenbosch UniversityMatielandSouth Africa
  2. 2.Laboratoire ‘Glycobiologie et Matrice Extracellulaire Végétale’, Glyco-MEV, IFRMP23-PRIMACEN IBiSAUniversité de RouenMont-Saint-AignanFrance
  3. 3.Department of Plant Biology and Biotechnology, Faculty of Life SciencesUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark
  4. 4.Department of Molecular and Cell BiologyUniversity of Cape TownRondeboschSouth Africa
  5. 5.Department of Plant BiologyCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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