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Special Issue "Plant Biomechanics"

A special issue of International Journal of Molecular Sciences (ISSN 1422-0067). This special issue belongs to the section "Molecular Plant Sciences".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 January 2022) | Viewed by 13655

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dorota Kwiatkowska
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Biophysics and Morphogenesis of Plants research group, Institute of Biology, Biotechnology and Environment Protection, University of Silesia in Katowice, Jagiellońska 28, 40‐032 Katowice, Poland
Interests: plant development; plant morphogenesis; plant growth; cell wall and tissue mechanics
Dr. Agata Burian
E-Mail Website
Co-Guest Editor
Institute of Biology, Biotechnology and Environment Protection, University of Silesia in Katowice, Jagiellońska 28, 40‐032 Katowice, Poland
Interests: plant morphogenesis; shoot meristems; cytoskeleton; cell divisions; cell growth; gene regulation

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue, dedicated to “Plant Biomechanics”, will cover a range of research topics in the field, from the role of mechanical factors in the regulation of plant development to the mechanical design of plant bodies that facilitate specific function performances and adaptations to environment. Both experimental papers and review articles are welcome.

To say that the plant bodies of tiny arabidopsis or trees are physical objects and observe the rules of mechanics is an obvious statement. However, mechanical aspects of plant biology have often been neglected in a maze of chemical, genetic, and molecular details. Nowadays, the role of mechanics in plant biology is recognised and better understood, thanks to research on the interface between biology, physics, mathematics, and computer science. In accordance with this trend, plant biomechanics has also been introduced to journals focused mainly on molecular biology.

Plant organs consist of a network of interconnected protoplasts embedded in a network of tightly joined cell walls, which facilitate mechanical signalling at the organ level. In consequence, biomechanical processes acting at subcellular, cellular, and organ scales are closely related and hard to separate. In this Special Issue, papers focusing on plant biomechanics at any of these organisation levels are thus invited.

Prof. Dorota Kwiatkowska
Dr. Agata Burian
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Molecular Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. There is an Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal. For details about the APC please see here. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Cell wall mechanics;
  • Cytoskeleton;
  • Mechanical adaptation;
  • Mechanical signalling;
  • Plant growth and development;
  • Plant mechanical design;
  • Plant movements;
  • Tree mechanics.

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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Article
How Cell Geometry and Cellular Patterning Influence Tissue Stiffness
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(10), 5651; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23105651 - 18 May 2022
Viewed by 453
Abstract
Cell growth in plants occurs due to relaxation of the cell wall in response to mechanical forces generated by turgor pressure. Growth can be anisotropic, with the principal direction of growth often correlating with the direction of lower stiffness of the cell wall. [...] Read more.
Cell growth in plants occurs due to relaxation of the cell wall in response to mechanical forces generated by turgor pressure. Growth can be anisotropic, with the principal direction of growth often correlating with the direction of lower stiffness of the cell wall. However, extensometer experiments on onion epidermal peels have shown that the tissue is stiffer in the principal direction of growth. Here, we used a combination of microextensometer experiments on epidermal onion peels and finite element method (FEM) modeling to investigate how cell geometry and cellular patterning affects mechanical measurements made at the tissue level. Simulations with isotropic cell-wall material parameters showed that the orientation of elongated cells influences tissue apparent stiffness, with the tissue appearing much softer in the transverse versus the longitudinal directions. Our simulations suggest that although extensometer experiments show that the onion tissue is stiffer when stretched in the longitudinal direction, the effect of cellular geometry means that the wall is in fact softer in this direction, matching the primary growth direction of the cells. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Biomechanics)
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Article
The Pellicle–Another Strategy of the Root Apex Protection against Mechanical Stress?
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(23), 12711; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms222312711 - 24 Nov 2021
Viewed by 583
Abstract
In grasses, the apical part of the root is covered by a two-layered deposit of extracellular material, the pellicle, which together with the outer periclinal wall of protodermal cells forms the three-layered epidermal surface. In this study, the effect of mechanical stress on [...] Read more.
In grasses, the apical part of the root is covered by a two-layered deposit of extracellular material, the pellicle, which together with the outer periclinal wall of protodermal cells forms the three-layered epidermal surface. In this study, the effect of mechanical stress on the pellicle was examined. An experiment was performed, in which maize roots were grown in narrow diameter plastic tubes with conical endings for 24 h. Two groups of experimental roots were included in the analysis: stressed (S) roots, whose tips did not grow out of the tubes, and recovering (R) roots, whose apices grew out of the tube. Control (C) roots grew freely between the layers of moist filter paper. Scanning electron microscopy and confocal microscopy analysis revealed microdamage in all the layers of the epidermal surface of S roots, however, protodermal cells in the meristematic zone remained viable. The outermost pellicle layer was twice as thick as in C roots. In R roots, large areas of dead cells were observed between the meristematic zone and the transition zone. The pellicle was defective with a discontinuous and irregular outermost layer. In the meristematic zone the pellicle was undamaged and the protodermal cells were intact. The results lead to the conclusion that the pellicle may prevent damage to protodermal cells, thus protecting the root apical meristem from the negative effects of mechano-stress. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Biomechanics)
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Article
Effect of Exogenous Auxin Treatment on Cell Wall Polymers of Strawberry Fruit
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(12), 6294; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22126294 - 11 Jun 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1307
Abstract
The role of auxin in the fruit-ripening process during the early developmental stages of commercial strawberry fruits (Fragaria x ananassa) has been previously described, with auxin production occurring in achenes and moving to the receptacle. Additionally, fruit softening is a consequence [...] Read more.
The role of auxin in the fruit-ripening process during the early developmental stages of commercial strawberry fruits (Fragaria x ananassa) has been previously described, with auxin production occurring in achenes and moving to the receptacle. Additionally, fruit softening is a consequence of the depolymerization and solubilization of cell wall components produced by the action of a group of proteins and enzymes. The aim of this study was to compare the effect of exogenous auxin treatment on the physiological properties of the cell wall-associated polysaccharide contents of strawberry fruits. We combined thermogravimetric (TG) analysis with analyses of the mRNA abundance, enzymatic activity, and physiological characteristics related to the cell wall. The samples did not show a change in fruit firmness at 48 h post-treatment; by contrast, we showed changes in the cell wall stability based on TG and differential thermogravimetric (DTG) analysis curves. Less degradation of the cell wall polymers was observed after auxin treatment at 48 h post-treatment. The results of our study indicate that auxin treatment delays the cell wall disassembly process in strawberries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Biomechanics)
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Article
Plant Seed Mucilage as a Glue: Adhesive Properties of Hydrated and Dried-in-Contact Seed Mucilage of Five Plant Species
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(3), 1443; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22031443 - 01 Feb 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1259
Abstract
Seed and fruit mucilage is composed of three types of polysaccharides—pectins, cellulose, and hemicelluloses—and demonstrates adhesive properties after hydration. One of the important functions of the mucilage is to enable seeds to attach to diverse natural surfaces. Due to its adhesive properties, which [...] Read more.
Seed and fruit mucilage is composed of three types of polysaccharides—pectins, cellulose, and hemicelluloses—and demonstrates adhesive properties after hydration. One of the important functions of the mucilage is to enable seeds to attach to diverse natural surfaces. Due to its adhesive properties, which increase during dehydration, the diaspore can be anchored to the substrate (soil) or attached to an animal’s body and dispersed over varied distances. After complete desiccation, the mucilage envelope forms a thin transparent layer around the diaspore creating a strong bond to the substrate. In the present study, we examined the mucilaginous seeds of six different plant taxa (from genera Linum, Lepidium, Ocimum, Salvia and Plantago) and addressed two main questions: (1) How strong is the adhesive bond of the dried mucilage envelope? and (2) What are the differences in adhesion between different mucilage types? Generally, the dried mucilage envelope revealed strong adhesive properties. Some differences between mucilage types were observed, particularly in relation to adhesive force (Fad) whose maximal values varied from 0.58 to 6.22 N. The highest adhesion force was revealed in the cellulose mucilage of Ocimum basilicum. However, mucilage lacking cellulose fibrils, such as that of Plantago ovata, also demonstrated high values of adhesion force with a maximum close to 5.74 N. The adhesion strength, calculated as force per unit contact area (Fad/A0), was comparable between studied taxa. Obtained results demonstrated (1) that the strength of mucilage adhesive bonds strongly surpasses the requirements necessary for epizoochory and (2) that seed mucilage has a high potential as a nontoxic, natural substance that can be used in water-based glues. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Biomechanics)
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Article
Kinematics Governing Mechanotransduction in the Sensory Hair of the Venus flytrap
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(1), 280; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22010280 - 30 Dec 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1467
Abstract
Insects fall prey to the Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) when they touch the sensory hairs located on the flytrap lobes, causing sudden trap closure. The mechanical stimulus imparted by the touch produces an electrical response in the sensory cells of the [...] Read more.
Insects fall prey to the Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) when they touch the sensory hairs located on the flytrap lobes, causing sudden trap closure. The mechanical stimulus imparted by the touch produces an electrical response in the sensory cells of the trigger hair. These cells are found in a constriction near the hair base, where a notch appears around the hair’s periphery. There are mechanosensitive ion channels (MSCs) in the sensory cells that open due to a change in membrane tension; however, the kinematics behind this process is unclear. In this study, we investigate how the stimulus acts on the sensory cells by building a multi-scale hair model, using morphometric data obtained from μ-CT scans. We simulated a single-touch stimulus and evaluated the resulting cell wall stretch. Interestingly, the model showed that high stretch values are diverted away from the notch periphery and, instead, localized in the interior regions of the cell wall. We repeated our simulations for different cell shape variants to elucidate how the morphology influences the location of these high-stretch regions. Our results suggest that there is likely a higher mechanotransduction activity in these ’hotspots’, which may provide new insights into the arrangement and functioning of MSCs in the flytrap. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Biomechanics)
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Article
Comparative Analyses of the Self-Sealing Mechanisms in Leaves of Delosperma cooperi and Delosperma ecklonis (Aizoaceae)
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(16), 5768; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21165768 - 11 Aug 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1181
Abstract
Within the Aizoaceae, the genus Delosperma exhibits a vast diversification colonizing various ecological niches in South-Africa and showing evolutionary adaptations to dry habitats that might include rapid self-sealing. Leaves of Delosperma react to external damage by the bending or contraction of the entire [...] Read more.
Within the Aizoaceae, the genus Delosperma exhibits a vast diversification colonizing various ecological niches in South-Africa and showing evolutionary adaptations to dry habitats that might include rapid self-sealing. Leaves of Delosperma react to external damage by the bending or contraction of the entire leaf until wound edges are brought into contact. A study of leaf morphology and anatomy, biomechanics of entire leaves and individual tissues and self-sealing kinematics after a ring incision under low and high relative humidity (RH) was carried out comparing the closely related species Delosperma cooperi and Delosperma ecklonis, which are indigenous to semi-arid highlands and regions with an oceanic climate, respectively. For both species, the absolute contractions of the examined leaf segments (“apex”, “incision”, “base”) were more pronounced at low RH levels. Independent of the given RH level, the absolute contractions within the incision region of D. cooperi were significantly higher than in all other segments of this species and of D. ecklonis. The more pronounced contraction of D. cooperi leaves was linked mainly to the elastic properties of the central vascular strand, which is approximately twice as flexible as that of D. ecklonis leaves. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Biomechanics)
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Article
Self-Repair in Cacti Branches: Comparative Analyses of Their Morphology, Anatomy, and Biomechanics
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(13), 4630; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21134630 - 29 Jun 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1203
Abstract
Damage-repair is particularly important for the maintenance of the water-storing abilities of succulent plants such as cacti. Comparative morphological, anatomical, and biomechanical analyses of self-repair were performed on artificially wounded branches of Opuntia ficus-indica and Cylindropuntia bigelovii. Macroscopic observations, contrast staining, and [...] Read more.
Damage-repair is particularly important for the maintenance of the water-storing abilities of succulent plants such as cacti. Comparative morphological, anatomical, and biomechanical analyses of self-repair were performed on artificially wounded branches of Opuntia ficus-indica and Cylindropuntia bigelovii. Macroscopic observations, contrast staining, and lignin-proof staining were used to investigate morphological and anatomical responses after wounding at various time intervals. Two-point bending tests were repeatedly performed on the same branches under unwounded, freshly wounded, and healed conditions by using customized 3D-printed clamping jaws. Morphologically, both species showed a rolling-in of the wound edges, but no mucilage discharge. Anatomically, ligno-suberized peridermal layers developed that covered the wound region, and new parenchyma cells formed, especially in O. ficus-indica. In all samples, the wounding effect directly after damage caused a decrease between 18% and 37% in all the tested mechanical parameters, whereas a positive healing effect after 21 days was only found for C. bigelovii. Based on our data, we hypothesize a high selection pressure on the restoration of structural integrity in the wound area, with a focus on the development of efficient water-retaining mechanisms, whereas the concept of “sufficient is good enough” seems to apply for the restoration of the mechanical properties. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Biomechanics)
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Article
The Protective Role of Bark and Bark Fibers of the Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) during High-Energy Impacts
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(9), 3355; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21093355 - 09 May 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2614
Abstract
The influences of (1) a high fiber content, (2) the arrangement of fibers in fiber groups, and (3) a layered hierarchical composition of the bark of the giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) on its energy dissipation capability are analyzed and discussed regarding [...] Read more.
The influences of (1) a high fiber content, (2) the arrangement of fibers in fiber groups, and (3) a layered hierarchical composition of the bark of the giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) on its energy dissipation capability are analyzed and discussed regarding the relevance for an application in bioinspired components in civil engineering. The giant sequoia is native to the Sierra Nevada (USA), a region with regular rockfalls. It is thus regularly exposed to high-energy impacts, with its bark playing a major protective role, as can be seen in the wild and has been proven in laboratory experiments. The authors quantify the fundamental biomechanical properties of the bark at various length scales, taking into account its hierarchical setup ranging from the integral level (whole bark) down to single bark fibers. Microtensile tests on single fibers and fiber pairs give insights into the properties of single fibers as well as the benefits of the strong longitudinal interconnection between single fibers arranged in pairs. Going beyond the level of single fibers or fiber pairs, towards the integral level, quasistatic compression tests and dynamic impact tests are performed on samples comprising the whole bark (inner and outer bark). These tests elucidate the deformation behavior under quasistatic compression and dynamic impact relevant for the high energy dissipation and impact-damping behavior of the bark. The remarkable energy dissipation capability of the bark at the abovementioned hierarchical levels are linked to the layered and fibrous structure of the bark structurally analyzed by thin sections and SEM and µCT scans. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Biomechanics)
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Review

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Review
Between Stress and Response: Function and Localization of Mechanosensitive Ca2+ Channels in Herbaceous and Perennial Plants
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(20), 11043; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms222011043 - 13 Oct 2021
Viewed by 787
Abstract
Over the past three decades, how plants sense and respond to mechanical stress has become a flourishing field of research. The pivotal role of mechanosensing in organogenesis and acclimation was demonstrated in various plants, and links are emerging between gene regulatory networks and [...] Read more.
Over the past three decades, how plants sense and respond to mechanical stress has become a flourishing field of research. The pivotal role of mechanosensing in organogenesis and acclimation was demonstrated in various plants, and links are emerging between gene regulatory networks and physical forces exerted on tissues. However, how plant cells convert physical signals into chemical signals remains unclear. Numerous studies have focused on the role played by mechanosensitive (MS) calcium ion channels MCA, Piezo and OSCA. To complement these data, we combined data mining and visualization approaches to compare the tissue-specific expression of these genes, taking advantage of recent single-cell RNA-sequencing data obtained in the root apex and the stem of Arabidopsis and the Populus stem. These analyses raise questions about the relationships between the localization of MS channels and the localization of stress and responses. Such tissue-specific expression studies could help to elucidate the functions of MS channels. Finally, we stress the need for a better understanding of such mechanisms in trees, which are facing mechanical challenges of much higher magnitudes and over much longer time scales than herbaceous plants, and we mention practical applications of plant responsiveness to mechanical stress in agriculture and forestry. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Biomechanics)
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Review
Structure, Assembly and Function of Cuticle from Mechanical Perspective with Special Focus on Perianth
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(8), 4160; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22084160 - 16 Apr 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1232
Abstract
This review is devoted to the structure, assembly and function of cuticle. The topics are discussed from the mechanical perspective and whenever the data are available a special attention is paid to the cuticle of perianth organs, i.e., sepals, petals or tepals. The [...] Read more.
This review is devoted to the structure, assembly and function of cuticle. The topics are discussed from the mechanical perspective and whenever the data are available a special attention is paid to the cuticle of perianth organs, i.e., sepals, petals or tepals. The cuticle covering these organs is special in both its structure and function and some of these peculiarities are related to the cuticle mechanics. In particular, strengthening of the perianth surface is often provided by a folded cuticle that functionally resembles profiled plates, while on the surface of the petal epidermis of some plants, the cuticle is the only integral continuous layer. The perianth cuticle is distinguished also by those aspects of its mechanics and development that need further studies. In particular, more investigations are needed to explain the formation and maintenance of cuticle folding, which is typical for the perianth epidermis, and also to elucidate the mechanical properties and behavior of the perianth cuticle in situ. Gaps in our knowledge are partly due to technical problems caused by very small thicknesses of the perianth cuticle but modern tools may help to overcome these obstacles. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Biomechanics)
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