Biotech Updates

Researchers Discover How Cell Walls are Assembled

February 27, 2019

Researchers at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) in Germany are providing new insights into basic cell division in plants. The team has now understood how processes are coordinated that are pivotal in properly separating daughter cells during cell division.

The researchers examined the roots of Arabidopsis thaliana. They grew normal plants and plants in which they artificially switched off certain enzymes affecting the composition of the membranes to find out which membrane building blocks are important for cell division and why.

Professor Ingo Heilmann from MLU and his research group was able to show that PI4P, a membrane building block, plays two roles during cell division: PI4P not only controls the activity of the fusion machinery, it also ensures the new material is transported in the right direction. For the first time, the researchers were able to show that PI4P helps to ensure that the protein scaffold of the phragmoplast is assembled and disassembled in the right places.

In normal plants, this results in regular cells that fit together perfectly and give the plant its needed stability. In the mutated plants, however, severe defects in cell division were found. The results also show the dynamics of the plant's cytoskeleton of microtubules. The cytoskeleton not only determines the direction of cellular transport processes during cell division, but also directs general plant growth. 

For more details, read the press release from MLU.