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© 2016 American Chemical Society. The native cellulose of bacterial, algal, and animal origins has been well studied structurally using X-ray and neutron diffraction and solid-state NMR spectroscopy, and is known to consist of varying proportions of two allomorphs, Iα and Iβ, which differ in hydrogen bonding, chain packing, and local conformation. In comparison, cellulose structure in plant primary cell walls is much less understood because plant cellulose has lower crystallinity and extensive interactions with matrix polysaccharides. Here we have combined two-dimensional magic-angle-spinning (MAS) solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (solid-state NMR) spectroscopy at high magnetic fields with density functional theory (DFT) calculations to obtain detailed information about the structural polymorphism and spatial distributions of plant primary-wall cellulose. 2D 13C-13C correlation spectra of uniformly 13C-labeled cell walls of several model plants resolved seven sets of cellulose chemical shifts. Among these, five sets (denoted a-e) belong to cellulose in the interior of the microfibril while two sets (f and g) can be assigned to surface cellulose. Importantly, most of the interior cellulose 13C chemical shifts differ significantly from the 13C chemical shifts of the Iα and Iβ allomorphs, indicating that plant primary-wall cellulose has different conformations, packing, and hydrogen bonding from celluloses of other organisms. 2D 13C-13C correlation experiments with long mixing times and with water polarization transfer revealed the spatial distributions and matrix-polysaccharide interactions of these cellulose structures. Celluloses f and g are well mixed chains on the microfibril surface, celluloses a and b are interior chains that are in molecular contact with the surface chains, while cellulose c resides in the core of the microfibril, outside spin diffusion contact with the surface. Interestingly, cellulose d, whose chemical shifts differ most significantly from those of bacterial, algal, and animal cellulose, interacts with hemicellulose, is poorly hydrated, and is targeted by the protein expansin during wall loosening. To obtain information about the C6 hydroxymethyl conformation of these plant celluloses, we carried out DFT calculations of 13C chemical shifts, using the Iα and Iβ crystal structures as templates and varying the C5-C6 torsion angle. Comparison with the experimental chemical shifts suggests that all interior cellulose favor the tg conformation, but cellulose d also has a similar propensity to adopt the gt conformation. These results indicate that cellulose in plant primary cell walls, due to their interactions with matrix polysaccharides, and has polymorphic structures that are not a simple superposition of the Iα and Iβ allomorphs, thus distinguishing them from bacterial and animal celluloses.

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