224. Saxena, I.M. and R.M. Brown, Jr. 2007. Preface In Cellulose: Molecular and Structural Biology. Springer pp XIII-XV.
Cellulose was first described by Anselme Payen in 1838 as a "resistant fibrous solid that remains behind after treatment of various plant tissue with acid and ammonia." In its simplest form, cellulose is composed of b-1,4-linked glucan chains that can be arranged in different ways giving rise to different forms of cellulose. In nature, cellulose is produced in a hierarchical manner with the glucan chains associated with each other to form crystalline and non-crystalline regions that are assembled into higher-order structures such as the microfibril. Depending on how the glucan chains associate, different crystalline forms of cellulose may be observed within the same microfibril. In nature, cellulose is generally obtained as the cellulose I crystalline form in which the glucan chains are aligned parallel to each other. Two forms of the native crystalline polymer, cellulose, Ia, and Ib, have been shown to be present in differing amounts obtained from different sources. Other crystalline and non-crystalline forms of cellulose have also been identified, and many of these forms can be converted from one form to the other from by chemical or physical treatments. Although much is known about the structure and propertied of the different forms of cellulose and the studies are still continuing, only recently has it been possible to understand the molecular basis of cellulose biosynthesis.
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