Infrared microspectroscopy: Sampling heterogeneity in plant cell wall composition and architecture

M. C. McCann, L. Chen, K. Roberts, E. K. Kemsley, C. Sene, N. C. Carpita, N. J. Stacey, R. H. Wilson

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The use of probes such as monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies to specific cell wall components, at both the light and electron microscope levels, has demonstrated the diversity in cell wall composition between species, between tissues, between different regions of the cell surface, and even within a single wall. Traditional methods of cell wall analysis have provided valuable information on wall composition and architecture, but, by having to rely on the use of bulk samples, have averaged out this intrinsic heterogeneity. Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) microspectroscopy addresses this problem by providing chemical information from an area as small as 10x10 μm of a single cell wall fragment or area of a tissue section that has been imaged with a microscope accessory. We have used FTIR microspectroscopy as a powerful and extremely rapid assay for wall components and putative cross-links in inure. The spectra are sensitive to polymer conformation and the use of polarisers in the microscope accessory allows the orientation of particular functional groups to be determined, with respect to the long axis of elongating cells. The spectra constitute species and tissue-specific 'fingerprints', and the use of classical discriminant analysis may provide the opportunity for correlating spectral features with chemical, architectural or rheological wall properties. Spectral mapping of an area of a specimen allows the morphological features resulting from cell growth and differentiation to be characterised chemically at the single cell level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)729-738
Number of pages10
JournalPhysiologia Plantarum
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1997


  • Cell wall architecture
  • Elongation
  • Fourier Transform Infrared spectroscopy
  • Functional group mapping
  • Hydration
  • Microspectroscopy
  • Pectin
  • Polarised IR spectroscopy
  • Principal component analysis

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