A study of the native cell wall structures of the marine alga Ventricaria ventricosa (Siphonocladales, Chlorophyceae) using atomic force microscopy

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Journal Article
Microscopy, 2014, 63 (2), pp. 131 - 140
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© Crown copyright 2014. A substantial proportion of the architecture of the plant cell wall remains unknown with a few cell wall models being proposed. Moreover, even less is known about the green algal cell wall. Techniques that allow direct visualization of the cell wall in as near to its native state are of importance in unravelling the spatial arrangement of cell wall structures and hence in the development of cell wall models. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) was used to image the native cell wall of living cells of Ventricaria ventricosa (V. ventricosa) at high resolution under physiological conditions. The cell wall polymers were identified mainly qualitatively via their structural appearance. The cellulose microfibrils (CMFs) were easily recognizable and the imaging results indicate that the V. ventricosa cell wall has a cross-fibrillar structure throughout. We found the native wall to be abundant in matrix polysaccharides existing in different curing states. The soft phase matrix polysaccharides susceptible by the AFM scanning tip existed as a glutinous fibrillar meshwork, possibly incorporating both the pectic- and hemicellulosic-type substances. The hard phase matrix producing clearer images, revealed coiled fibrillar structures associated with CMFs, sometimes being resolved as globular structures by the AFM tip. The coiling fibrillar structures were also seen in the images of isolated cell wall fragments. The mucilaginous component of the wall was discernible from the gelatinous cell wall matrix as it formed microstructural domains over the surface. AFM has been successful in imaging the native cell wall and revealing novel findings such as the ‘coiling fibrillar structures’ and cell wall components which have previously not been seen, that is, the gelatinous matrix phase.
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