jim haseloff

Bands of cellulose in xylem cells of Arabidopsis thaliana

Xylem cells are like drinking straws for plants. Located deep within a plant’s stem, xylem draws water up from the earth and transports it to the rest of the plant. But just like how drinking straws can be bent and clogged, so too can xylem cells. Plants circumvent this problem by scaffolding xylem with thick deposits of cellulose, a tough fibrous material. This genetically engineered plant shows bands of cellulose in xylem cells, underscoring how the crisscross pattern of cellulose supports xylem integrity and prevents its collapse.

Dr. Fernan Federici, David Benjamin, and Jim Haseloff, University of Cambridge.