About this Research Topic
Lignocellulosic biomass is an important renewable feedstock and a source of (macro)molecules for different industrial applications. The bulk of plant biomass is composed of cell walls, a natural biocomposite whose biosynthesis requires the regulation and coordination of several metabolic steps.
A strong body of evidence in the literature has shown how intimate the relationship between plant nutrients and cell wall biosynthesis is. This is true for both macro- and micronutrients. For example, primary N assimilation (via NH4+ or NO3- assimilation) can impact the endogenous C/N balance, thereby affecting plant biomass production; P is an essential nutrient as it is a component of e.g. nucleic acids/membranes and its deficit can impact the plant cell wall-related metabolism. The micronutrient B, has effects on the plant cell wall physiology and mechanical properties: it indeed forms bridges in the pectin network, thereby affecting the overall mechanical properties of plant cell walls. Likewise, the non-essential element Si is known to affect cell wall-related processes in both dicots and monocots. Finally, Cu is a co-factor of laccases, which are enzymes involved in lignin deposition, more specifically in the polymerization of monolignols.
Besides being affected by macro- and microelements, the plant cell wall is also a preferential site for the accumulation of metals present in toxic concentrations. Several studies have indeed demonstrated that the cell wall plays an active role upon metal stress: polysaccharide components are indeed specifically modified to bind the toxic metals and thereby act as “micro-sponges”.
More recently, the application of nanoparticle technology to plant nutrition has resulted in considerable improvements in plant productivity although negative side effects on biomass and metabolic processes have also been described.
In this Research Topic we aim at gathering the current knowledge concerning the role of plant nutrients (nano-sized and not) on cell wall-related processes by focusing on macro- and micronutrients (metal, non-metal and metalloid). Contributions analyzing the effects of toxic concentrations of metals on plant cell walls are also welcome.
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