Glucanase Regulation of Plant Growth and Development
Hydrolysis of the polysaccharides that compose plant cell walls is critical to cell expansion, and is therefore a key process in governing the growth and development of plants. Specifically, beta-glucan polymers form a ubiquitous matrix in plant cell walls, forming a molecular fabric around cells that must be loosened and broken down before a cell can expand. Since there is a dynamic balance between beta-glucan polymerization and depolymerization, subtle changes in the glucanase enzymes that catalyze hydrolysis can greatly affect such basic plant growth processes as cell elongation and division.
Researchers at the University of California have discovered a new gene family responsible for the hydrolysis of beta-glucan polymers in plant cell walls, particularly the type of polymers found in maize and other cereal plants. These UC glucanases provide a new opportunity for regulating plant growth via biotechnological methods, with a potential to improve the yield of economically important crops.
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