This article summarizes the theory and practical aspects of measuring cell wall properties by four different extensometer techniques and how the results of these methods relate to the concept and ideal measurement of cell wall extensibility in the context of cell growth. These in vivo techniques are particularly useful for studies of the molecular basis of cell wall extension. Measurements of breaking strength, elastic compliance, and plastic compliance may be informative about changes in cell wall structure, whereas measurements of wall stress relaxation and creep are sensitive to both changes in wall structure and wall-loosening processes, such as those mediated by expansins and some lytic enzymes. A combination of methods is needed to obtain a broader view of cell wall behavior and properties connected with the concept of cell wall extensibility.
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