Molecular insights into the complex mechanics of plant epidermal cell walls

Plants have evolved complex nanofibril-based cell walls to meet diverse biological and physical constraints. How strength and extensibility emerge from the nanoscale-to-mesoscale organization of growing cell walls has long been unresolved. We sought to clarify the mechanical roles of cellulose and matrix polysaccharides by developing a coarse-grained model based on polymer physics that recapitulates aspects of assembly and tensile mechanics of epidermal cell walls. Simple noncovalent binding interactions in the model generate bundled cellulose networks resembling that of primary cell walls and possessing stress-dependent elasticity, stiffening, and plasticity beyond a yield threshold. Plasticity originates from fibril-fibril sliding in aligned cellulose networks. This physical model provides quantitative insight into fundamental questions of plant mechanobiology and reveals design principles of biomaterials that combine stiffness with yielding and extensibility.



Work Title Molecular insights into the complex mechanics of plant epidermal cell walls
Open Access
  1. Yao Zhang
  2. Jingyi Yu
  3. Xuan Wang
  4. Daniel M. Durachko
  5. Sulin Zhang
  6. Daniel J. Cosgrove
License In Copyright (Rights Reserved)
Work Type Article
  1. Science
Publication Date May 14, 2021
Publisher Identifier (DOI)
Deposited July 19, 2022




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Work History

Version 1

  • Created
  • Added abf2824_CombinedPDF_v3.pdf
  • Added Creator Yao Zhang
  • Added Creator Jingyi Yu
  • Added Creator Xuan Wang
  • Added Creator Daniel M. Durachko
  • Added Creator Sulin Zhang
  • Added Creator Daniel J. Cosgrove
  • Published