Stat 38

1996 Science Teachers Association of Texas (STAT) Convention

Cellulose microfibrils themselves are highly organized within the plant cell wall as this photomicrograph so clearly shows. The "textile-like" pattern of oriented cellulose microfibrils originates with the assistance of an underlying cortical microtubule network near the cell's plasma membrane. The orientation of the cellulose determines how a plant cell will expand. Think of blowing up a balloon which will be spherical if no restraints are present. If the balloon is placed inside of a metal "slinky" and then blown up, it will have a limited axis of expansion within the slinky and will enlarge unto a cylinder, rather than a sphere. This is what happens in many plant cells which have transversely oriented cellulose microfibrils.

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