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Metabolism of polysaccharides in dynamic middle lamellae during cotton fibre development

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Main conclusion

Evidence is presented that cotton fibre adhesion and middle lamella formation are preceded by cutin dilution and accompanied by rhamnogalacturonan-I metabolism.

Cotton fibres are single cell structures that early in development adhere to one another via the cotton fibre middle lamella (CFML) to form a tissue-like structure. The CFML is disassembled around the time of initial secondary wall deposition, leading to fibre detachment. Observations of CFML in the light microscope have suggested that the development of the middle lamella is accompanied by substantial cell-wall metabolism, but it has remained an open question as to which processes mediate adherence and which lead to detachment. The mechanism of adherence and detachment were investigated here using glyco-microarrays probed with monoclonal antibodies, transcript profiling, and observations of fibre auto-digestion. The results suggest that adherence is brought about by cutin dilution, while the presence of relevant enzyme activities and the dynamics of rhamnogalacturonan-I side-chain accumulation and disappearance suggest that both attachment and detachment are accompanied by rhamnogalacturonan-I metabolism.

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1,2-Cyclohexanediamine-tetraacetic acid


Cotton fibre middle lamella


Comprehensive microarray polymer profiling


Days post-anthesis








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This work was supported by Villum Foundation project PLANET (Grant No. 00009283) and the European Union Seventh Framework Programme under the WallTraC project (Grant agreement No. 263916). This paper reflects the authors’ views only. The European Community is not liable for any use that may be made of the information contained herein. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Peter Ulvskov.

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Guo, X., Runavot, J., Bourot, S. et al. Metabolism of polysaccharides in dynamic middle lamellae during cotton fibre development. Planta 249, 1565–1581 (2019).

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  • Arabinofuranosidase
  • Cuticle
  • Post-genital fusion
  • Rhamnogalacturonan-I
  • Xyloglucan