Secondary cell wall composition and candidate gene expression in developing willow (Salix purpurea) stems

Yongfang Wan, Cristina Gritsch, Theodora Tryfona, Mike J Ray, Ambrose Andongabo, Keywan Hassani-Pak, Huw D Jones, Paul Dupree, Angela Karp, Peter R. Shewry, Rowan A. C. Mitchell

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The properties of the secondary cell wall (SCW) in willow largely determine the suitability of willow biomass feedstock for potential bioenergy and biofuel applications. SCW development has been little studied in willow and it is not known how willow compares with model species, particularly the closely related genus Populus. To address this and relate SCW synthesis to candidate genes in willow, a tractable bud culture-derived system was developed in Salix purpurea, and cell wall composition and RNA-Seq transcriptome were followed in stems during early development. A large increase in SCW deposition in the period 0-2 weeks after transfer to soil was characterised by a big increase in xylan content, but no change in the frequency of substitution of xylan with glucuronic acid, and increased abundance of putative transcripts for synthesis of SCW cellulose, xylan and lignin. Histochemical staining and immunolabeling revealed that increased deposition of lignin and xylan was associated with xylem, xylem fibre cells and phloem fibre cells. Transcripts orthologous to those encoding xylan synthase components IRX9 and IRX10 and xylan glucuronyl transferase GUX1 in Arabidopsis were co-expressed, and showed the same spatial pattern of expression revealed by in situ hybridisation at four developmental stages, with abundant expression in proto-xylem, xylem fibre and ray parenchyma cells and some expression in phloem fibre cells. The results show a close similarity with SCW development in Populus species, but also give novel information on the relationship between spatial and temporal variation in xylan-related transcripts and xylan composition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1041-1053
Number of pages13
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2014


  • Cell Wall
  • Cellulose
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Genetic Association Studies
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Lignin
  • Plant Stems
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Salix
  • Xylans


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