Pectins are complex polysaccharides that contain acidic sugars and are major determinants of the cohesion, adhesion, extensibility, porosity and electrostatic potential of plant cell walls. Recent evidence has solidified their positions as key regulators of cellular growth and tissue morphogenesis, although important details of how they achieve this regulation are still missing. Pectins are also hypothesized to function as ligands for wall integrity sensors that enable plant cells to respond to intrinsic defects in wall biomechanics and to wall degradation by attacking pathogens. This update highlights recent advances in our understanding of the biosynthesis of pectins, how they are delivered to the cell surface and become incorporated into the cell wall matrix and how pectins are modified over time in the apoplast. It also poses unanswered questions for further research into this enigmatic but essential class of carbohydrate polymers.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Plant Science