The cell wall is an indispensable feature of the plant providing morphological and structural integrity to plant cells and organs. The plant cell wall is mainly composed of sugar polymers which are interlinked with other molecules to create rigid structure; these sugar polymers make plant cell walls or biomass a valuable resource. Lastly, the plant cell wall is a major determinant of the quality of most plant-based products and comprises the bulk of fodder to support livestock. Its biosynthesis involves the coordination of many thousands of molecular processes within the plant cell and understanding these processes requires advanced analytical approaches.
Much of the sugar polymers destined for the cell wall are biosynthesized in distinct structures within the cell. We are developing advanced isolation and fractionation techniques to characterize the molecular components of these structures to reveal new insights in plant cell wall biosynthesis. We are also characterizing the transport of sugar molecules into these substructures, many of which are destined to be incorporated into sugar polymers of the cell wall. Finally we employ a range of advanced biochemical and data analysis techniques to reveal subtleties of enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of these sugar polymers. Collectively these approaches contribute to our basic knowledge of plant cell wall biosynthesis and can assist in the development of foods and crops with favourable characteristics, such as improvements in grain quality.