Grazing-incidence diffraction reveals cellulose and pectin organization in hydrated plant primary cell wall

Joshua T. Del Mundo, Sintu Rongpipi, Hui Yang, Dan Ye, Sarah N. Kiemle, Stephanie L. Moffitt, Charles L. Troxel, Michael F. Toney, Chenhui Zhu, James D. Kubicki, Daniel J. Cosgrove, Esther W. Gomez, Enrique D. Gomez

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3 Scopus citations


The primary cell wall is highly hydrated in its native state, yet many structural studies have been conducted on dried samples. Here, we use grazing-incidence wide-angle X-ray scattering (GIWAXS) with a humidity chamber, which enhances scattering and the signal-to-noise ratio while keeping outer onion epidermal peels hydrated, to examine cell wall properties. GIWAXS of hydrated and dried onion reveals that the cellulose (110 / 1 1 ¯ 0) lattice spacing decreases slightly upon drying, while the (200) lattice parameters are unchanged. Additionally, the (110 / 1 1 ¯ 0) diffraction intensity increases relative to (200). Density functional theory models of hydrated and dry cellulose microfibrils corroborate changes in crystalline properties upon drying. GIWAXS also reveals a peak that we attribute to pectin chain aggregation. We speculate that dehydration perturbs the hydrogen bonding network within cellulose crystals and collapses the pectin network without affecting the lateral distribution of pectin chain aggregates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5421
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

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