EFFECTS OF TOXIC CATIONS ON BACTERIAL CELLULOSE PECTIN COMPOSITES USED AS CELL WALL ANALOGS

Brigid Mckenna (2010). EFFECTS OF TOXIC CATIONS ON BACTERIAL CELLULOSE PECTIN COMPOSITES USED AS CELL WALL ANALOGS PhD Thesis, School of Land, Crop and Food Sciences, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Brigid Mckenna
Thesis Title EFFECTS OF TOXIC CATIONS ON BACTERIAL CELLULOSE PECTIN COMPOSITES USED AS CELL WALL ANALOGS
School, Centre or Institute School of Land, Crop and Food Sciences
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2010-04-21
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Prof. Neal Menzies
Dr. Bernhard Wehr
Graham Kerven
Total pages 147
Total colour pages 2
Total black and white pages 145
Subjects 07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences
Abstract/Summary In strongly acidic soils (pH <4.5) aluminium (Al) becomes soluble in quantities that can lead to Al phytotoxicity. It is estimated that approximately 30 % of the worlds’ potentially arable lands are acidic, with Al toxicity the most limiting factor for plant growth on acid soils. With increasing use of marginal land in cropping systems, this area could reach 70 %. Cell wall pectin provides up to 70 % of the root cation exchange capacity. Pectin is suggested to control a number of physiological properties of the plant cell wall such as porosity, charge density, microfibril spacing and pH. The ability of pectin to bind cations is not only important for the uptake of nutrients but is implicated in metal toxicity, in particular Al. Despite over a century of research, the mechanisms of Al toxicity are yet to be fully elucidated or agreed upon. Gluconacetobacter xylinus is a gram-negative, soil dwelling bacterium which produces extracellular cellulose. It is an established archetype for the study of cellulose biogenesis. In the presence of pectin in the growth medium, the bacterium can form cellulose-pectin composites. Recently, the bacterium has been used to form composites as model cell walls to understand plant cell wall deposition. Additionally, bacterial cellulose composites in their natural hydrated state mimic the hydration state of primary plant cell walls. The aim of this project was to attempt to incorporate this novel cell wall analog into laboratory investigations into metal interactions with plant cell walls. Preliminary work was undertaken to optimise the bacterial culture medium, growth conditions, analysis of the composites and developing an overall general methodology. The medium buffering system was altered, growth under non-optimal pH conditions was evaluated and Al was successfully incorporated into the composites. Appropriate sample preparation for scanning electron microscopy (SEM) of the composites was determined. This work resulted in the successful production of bacterial cellulose-pectin composites with 30 % w/w pectin incorporation. The effect of Al on the tensile properties of the composites was examined. Aluminium had no effect on the stress/strain profiles, confirming the hypothesis that pectin is not the main load bearing component of the cell wall. The composites were used to investigate the effects of Al and other trace metals (copper (Cu), gadolinium (Gd), lanthanum (La), ruthenium (Ru) and scandium (Sc)) on the hydraulic conductivity of the composites. Hydraulic conductivity was reduced to ≈ 30 % of the initial flow rate by 39 μM Al and 0.6 Cu μM, ≈ 40 % by 4.6 μM La, 3 μM Sc and 4.4 μM Ru, and ≈ 55 % by 3.4 μM Gd. These metal concentrations were selected based on the concentrations causing a 50 % reduction in root elongation in cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L.). This study demonstrated that all the trace metals caused a similar decrease of hydraulic conductivity, despite the different concentrations of the metals used. Scanning electron microscopy showed changes in pectin porosity with metal binding which may account for the decreases in hydraulic conductivity observed. As the composites could not be used as a model material in all investigations, pectin-only systems were employed in a rheological study to investigate the effect of increasing concentrations of Al, Ca, Cu or La at pH 4 on pectin (degree of esterification 30 %, 1 % w/v) gel physical strength. Comparing similar saturation levels, La formed the weakest gel, followed by Ca, which was similar to Al, while the strength of Cu gels was almost an order of magnitude stronger than the other cations. This study was the first to investigate Al and La pectate gel strength. The swelling of the gels also varied, with Ca gels being the most swollen. Pectin was also used to determine the exchange selectivity of Al, Cu, Gd, La, Ru and Sc toward Ca pectate. The order of selectivity was found to be Sc>Gd>La>Cu>Ru>Al. There were some parallels between this sequence and the rhizotoxicity data of the metals, suggesting that the strength with which metals bind to pectin is an indication of their rhizotoxicity. Through the use of synthetic pectate gel systems new information was discovered about the strength of pectin gels and the selectivity of trace metals towards pectin. These findings were in keeping with those of a number of related studies, as well as with studies of plant root tissue. Overall, the novel bacterial cellulose-pectin cell wall analog was successfully integrated into research into Al and other metal toxicity in plants, and offers a useful system that can overcome some of the difficulties encountered when using plant cell wall tissue. Further research may be warranted on manipulating the growth system to produce composites in the presence of the metal (ie. metal added to the growth medium), as opposed to post-formation treatments. Moreover, the production of a three way composite of cellulose, hemicellulose and pectin would likely be another useful analog for plant cell wall material.
Keyword pectin
cell wall
bacterial cellulose
aluminium
metals
toxicity
roots

 
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Created: Tue, 10 Aug 2010, 09:36:29 EST by Ms Brigid Mckenna on behalf of Library - Information Access Service