Engineering temporal accumulation of a low recalcitrance polysaccharide leads to increased C6 sugar content in plant cell walls.
Mixed-linkage (1-->3),(1-->4)-beta-D-glucan (MLG) is widely considered to be a defining feature of the cell walls of plants in the Poales order. However, we conducted an extensive survey of cell-wall composition in diverse land plants and discovered that MLG is also abundant in the walls of the horsetail Equisetum arvense. MALDI-TOF MS and monosaccharide linkage analysis revealed that MLG in E. arvense is an unbranched homopolymer that consists of short blocks of contiguous 1,4-beta-linked glucose residues joined by 1,3-beta linkages. However, in contrast to Poaceae species, MLG in E. arvense consists mostly of cellotetraose rather than cellotetriose, and lacks long 1,4-beta-linked glucan blocks. Monosaccharide linkage analyses and immunochemical profiling indicated that, in E. arvense, MLG is a component of cell walls that have a novel architecture that differs significantly from that of the generally recognized type I and II cell walls. Unlike in type II walls, MLG in E. arvense does not appear to be co-extensive with glucuroarabinoxylans but occurs in walls that are rich in pectin. Immunofluorescence and immunogold localization showed that MLG occurs in both young and old regions of E. arvense stems, and is present in most cell types apart from cells in the vascular tissues. These findings have important implications for our understanding of cell-wall evolution, and also demonstrate that plant cell walls can be constructed in a way not previously envisaged.