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Review article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Plant cell walls as mechanical signaling hubs for morphogenesis

Jonsson, Kristoffer; Hamant, Olivier; Bhalerao, Rishikesh P.


The instructive role of mechanical cues during morphogenesis is increasingly being recognized in all kingdoms. Patterns of mechanical stress depend on shape, growth and external factors. In plants, the cell wall integrates these three parameters to function as a hub for mechanical feedback. Plant cells are interconnected by cell walls that provide structural integrity and yet are flexible enough to act as both targets and transducers of mechanical cues. Such cues may act locally at the subcellular level or across entire tissues, requiring tight control of both cell-wall composition and cell-cell adhesion. Here we focus on how changes in cell-wall chemistry and mechanics act in communicating diverse cues to direct growth asymmetries required for plant morphogenesis. We explore the role of cellulose microfibrils, microtubule arrays and pectin methylesterification in the transduction of mechanical cues during morphogenesis. Plant hormones can affect the mechanochemical composition of the cell wall and, in turn, the cell wall can modulate hormone signaling pathways, as well as the tissue-level distribution of these hormones. This also leads us to revisit the position of biochemical growth factors, such as plant hormones, acting both upstream and downstream of mechanical signaling. Finally, while the structure of the cell wall is being elucidated with increasing precision, existing data clearly show that the integration of genetic, biochemical and theoretical studies will be essential for a better understanding of the role of the cell wall as a hub for the mechanical control of plant morphogenesis.

Published in

Current Biology
2022, volume: 32, number: 7, pages: R334-R340
Publisher: CELL PRESS

Authors' information

Jonsson, Kristoffer
Universite de Montreal
Hamant, Olivier
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Genetics and Plant Physiology

UKÄ Subject classification

Cell Biology

Publication Identifiers


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