Release, Recycle, Rebuild: Cell-Wall Remodeling, Autodegradation, and Sugar Salvage for New Wall Biosynthesis during Plant Development

William J. Barnes, Charles T. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

17 Scopus citations


Plant cell walls contain elaborate polysaccharide networks and regulate plant growth, development, mechanics, cell-cell communication and adhesion, and defense. Despite conferring rigidity to support plant structures, the cell wall is a dynamic extracellular matrix that is modified, reorganized, and degraded to tightly control its properties during growth and development. Far from being a terminal carbon sink, many wall polymers can be degraded and recycled by plant cells, either via direct re-incorporation by transglycosylation or via internalization and metabolic salvage of wall-derived sugars to produce new precursors for wall synthesis. However, the physiological and metabolic contributions of wall recycling to plant growth and development are largely undefined. In this review, we discuss long-standing and recent evidence supporting the occurrence of cell-wall recycling in plants, make predictions regarding the developmental processes to which wall recycling might contribute, and identify outstanding questions and emerging experimental tools that might be used to address these questions and enhance our understanding of this poorly characterized aspect of wall dynamics and metabolism. In this review, we highlight studies supporting the occurrence of plant cell-wall recycling, describe the processes that control wall turnover and metabolic salvage, discuss promising new tools for further investigating wall recycling, and speculate on developmental processes to which wall recycling might contribute, in order to explore and encourage further study of this poorly understood aspect of plant biology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-46
Number of pages16
JournalMolecular plant
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Plant Science

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