Why Cell Walls?

Cell wall composition determines the quality of plant-based products for:

  • Human health and nutrition
  • Textile fibres
  • Renewable biofuel production
  • Malting and brewing
  • Timber and paper products

The key biological questions remain unanswered:

  • What genes are involved?
  • How are these genes regulated?
  • What cellular pathways are involved in synthesis and deposition?
  • What are the physicochemical properties of bio-composites?

Plant Cell Walls in the Grasses

Grasses are the most important plants for human societies. They:

  • Provide the main source of calorie intake for humans: wheat, rice, maize, sorghum and barley
  • Are used as forage and fodder for domesticated animals
  • Are promising as biomass energy crops

Cell wall composition determines the quality of most plant-based products used in modern human societies. Nutritional and processing properties of plant-based foods are heavily influenced by wall properties. Fibres for textiles, pulp and paper manufacture, timber products and now, for fuel and bio-composite manufacture, are largely composed of, or derived from, walls. As the largest source of renewable carbon, plant cell walls have a critical future role in providing transport fuels, food security, functional foods to improve human health, and as raw materials for industrial processes.