Sticky mucilages and exudates of plants – putative microenvironmental design elements with biotechnological value
Plants produce a wide array of secretions both above and below ground. Known as mucilages or exudates, they are secreted by seeds, roots, leaves and stems and fulfil a variety of functions including adhesion, protection, nutrient acquisition and infection. Mucilages are generally polysaccharide‐rich and often occur in the form of viscoelastic gels and in many cases have adhesive properties. In some cases, progress is being made in understanding the structure–function relationships of mucilages such as for the secretions that allow growing ivy to attach to substrates and the biosynthesis and secretion of the mucilage compounds of the Arabidopsis seed coat. Work is just beginning towards understanding root mucilage and the proposed adhesive polymers involved in the formation of rhizosheaths at root surfaces and for the secretions involved in host plant infection by parasitic plants. In this article, we summarise knowledge on plant exudates and mucilages within the concept of their functions in microenvironmental design, focusing in particular on their bioadhesive functions and the molecules responsible for them. We draw attention to areas of future knowledge need, including the microstructure of mucilages and their compositional and regulatory dynamics.
CitationGalloway, A.C, Knox, P., Krause, K. (2019) Sticky mucilages and exudates of plants – putative microenvironmental design elements with biotechnological value. New Phytologist, 2019, , 1-9.
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