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African Journal of Biotechnology

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Expression of an expansin carbohydrate-binding module affects xylem and phloem formation

OO Obembe, E Jacobsen, R Visser, J-P Vincken

Abstract


Expansins are believed to be involved in disrupting the non-covalent adhesion of cellulose to matrix polysaccharides, thereby promoting wall creep. We have targeted a putative potato expansin (EXPA)
carbohydrate-binding module (CBM) to the cell walls of tobacco plants. Histological examinations and electron microscopy indicated that 30% of the xylem cells of the transgenic stems with high expression
of the expansin CBM are wider (radial surface area) than those of the controls. Similarly, 37% of the xylem cells of the stems of the high expressers have thinner cell walls than those of the controls. There
were no such phenotypes in the low and none expressers, as well as in the control plants. The transgenic tobacco plants expressing the potato expansin CBM did not exhibit marked change in plant morphology. Analysis of cellulose content in the stem cell walls was similar between the high expresser of the transgene and the control plants. Nonetheless, our results taken together demonstrate that expansin CBM alone can bring about changes in the plant cell walls.



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