To help improve the quality of plant-based foods, researchers from the
University of York and Quadram Institute unlocked the
secrets of plant cell walls. Using a microarray, the team analyzed thousands
of plant cell samples simultaneously using a microarray, and harvested large
amount of data relevant to the arrangement of the cell. They linked this
information back to particular changes in genetic information between the
different varieties of plant cell, using association mapping.
Dr. Ian Bancroft from the University of York said, "Plant cell walls are
made up of sugars, which can be arranged into a myriad of different
carbohydrates that determine cell wall properties in subtly different but
significant ways." He added that variations in these sugars alter the
properties of the plant, including growth and defense against pests and
diseases. They also affect the properties of plant products, such as the
nutritional quality and usability as biofuel products.
"With a better understanding of the genetic controls of plant cell wall
synthesis we can make more effective improvements to support agricultural
industries and the bioindustry," he said. The microarray technology helped
in specimens that tended to contain more, or less of a specific component.
Breeders identify when the good
variant is present, and scientists know the likely position and identity of
relevant genes through the highlighted markers.