The impact of microbril orientations on the biomechanics of plant cell walls and tissues

Mariya Ptashnyk (Lead / Corresponding author), Brian Seguin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

The microscopic structure and anisotropy of plant cell walls greatly influence the mechanical properties, morphogenesis and growth of plant cells and tissues. The microscopic structure and properties of cell walls are determined by the orientation and mechanical properties of the cellulose microfibrils and the mechanical properties of the cell wall matrix. Viewing the shape of a plant cell as a square prism with the axis aligning with the primary direction of expansion and growth, the orientation of the microfibrils within the side walls, i.e the parts of the cell walls on the sides of the cells, is known. However, not much is known about their orientation at the upper and lower ends of the cell. Here we investigate the impact of the orientation of cellulose microfibrils within the upper and lower parts of the plant cell walls by solving the equations of linear elasticity numerically. Three different scenarios for the orientation of the microfibrils are considered. We also distinguish between the microstructure in the side walls given by microfibrils perpendicular to the main direction of the expansion and the situation where the microfibrils are rotated through the wall thickness. The macroscopic elastic properties of the cell wall are obtained using homogenization theory from the microscopic description of the elastic properties of the cell wall microfibrils and wall matrix. It is found that the orientation of the microfibrils in the upper and lower parts of the cell walls affects the expansion of the cell in the lateral directions and is particularly important in the case of forces acting on plant cell walls and tissues.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2135-2164
Number of pages30
JournalBulletin of Mathematical Biology
Volume78
Issue number11
Early online date19 Oct 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016

Keywords

  • biomechanics
  • plant modelling
  • homogenization
  • linear elasticity
  • plant cell wall microfibrils

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