J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 2015, Vol. 57 ›› Issue (4): 357-372.DOI: 10.1111/jipb.12346

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Ectopic lignification in primary cellulose-deficient cell walls of maize cell suspension cultures

Hugo Mélida1,2†, Asier Largo-Gosens1†, Esther Novo-Uzal3, Rogelio Santiago4,5, Federico Pomar6, Pedro García7, Penélope García-Angulo1, José Luis Acebes1, Jesús Álvarez1 and Antonio Encina1*   

  1. 1Plant Physiology laboratory, Facultad de CC Biológicas y Ambientales, Universidad de León, León, Spain
    2Centre for Plant Biotechnology and Genomics (CBGP), Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Madrid, Spain
    3Department of Plant Biology, University of Murcia, Murcia, Spain
    4Universidad de Vigo, Facultad de Biología, Dpto. Biología Vegetal y Ciencias del Suelo. Campus As Lagoas Marcosende, Vigo, Spain
    5Agrobiología Ambiental. Calidad de Suelos y Plantas (UVIGO), Unidad Asociada a la Misión Biológica de Galicia (CSIC)
    6Department of Animal Biology, Plant Biology and Ecology. University of A Coruña, A Coruña, Spain
    7Department of Molecular Biology (Área de Genética), Facultad de CC Biológicas y Ambientales, Universidad de León, León, Spain
  • Received:2014-11-28 Accepted:2015-02-25 Published:2015-04-01
  • About author:*Correspondence: E-mail: a.encina@unileon.es


Maize (Zea mays L.) suspension-cultured cells with up to 70% less cellulose were obtained by stepwise habituation to dichlobenil (DCB), a cellulose biosynthesis inhibitor. Cellulose deficiency was accompanied by marked changes in cell wall matrix polysaccharides and phenolics as revealed by Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy. Cell wall compositional analysis indicated that the cellulose-deficient cell walls showed an enhancement of highly branched and cross-linked arabinoxylans, as well as an increased content in ferulic acid, diferulates and p-coumaric acid, and the presence of a polymer that stained positive for phloroglucinol. In accordance with this, cellulose-deficient cell walls showed a fivefold increase in Klason-type lignin. Thioacidolysis/GC-MS analysis of cellulose-deficient cell walls indicated the presence of a lignin-like polymer with a Syringyl/Guaiacyl ratio of 1.45, which differed from the sensu stricto stress-related lignin that arose in response to short-term DCB-treatments. Gene expression analysis of these cells indicated an overexpression of genes specific for the biosynthesis of monolignol units of lignin. A study of stress signaling pathways revealed an overexpression of some of the jasmonate signaling pathway genes, which might trigger ectopic lignification in response to cell wall integrity disruptions. In summary, the structural plasticity of primary cell walls is proven, since a lignification process is possible in response to cellulose impoverishment.


Mélida H, Largo-Gosens A, Novo-Uzal E, Santiago R, Pomar F, García P, García-Angulo P, Acebes JL, Álvarez J, Encina A (2015) Ectopic lignification in primary cellulose-deficient cell walls of maize cell suspension cultures. J Integr Plant Biol 57: 357–372 doi: 10.1111/jipb.12346

Key words: Cellulose, DCB, dichlobenil, ectopic lignin, maize

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