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Hemicellulosic polysaccharides built of β-1,4-linked mannose units have been found throughout the plant kingdom and have numerous industrial applications. Here, I review recent advances in the biosynthesis and modification of plant β-mannans. These matrix polymers can associate with cellulose bundles to impact the mechanical properties of plant fibers or biocomposites. In certain algae, mannan microfibrils even replace cellulose as the dominant structural component of the cell wall. Conversely, patterned galactoglucomannan found in Arabidopsis thaliana seed mucilage significantly modulates cell wall architecture and abiotic stress tolerance despite its relatively low content. I also discuss the subcellular requirements for β-mannan biosynthesis, the increasing number of carbohydrate-active enzymes involved in this process, and the players that continue to be puzzling. I discuss how cellulose synthase-like enzymes elongate (gluco)mannans in orthogonal hosts and highlight the discoveries of plant enzymes that add specific galactosyl or acetyl decorations. Hydrolytic enzymes such as endo-β-1,4-mannanases have recently been involved in a wide range of biological contexts including seed germination, wood formation, heavy metal tolerance, and defense responses. Synthetic biology tools now provide faster tracks to modulate the increasingly-relevant mannan structures for improved plant traits and bioproducts. © 2022 The Author. New Phytologist © 2022 New Phytologist Foundation.


Cătălin Voiniciuc. Modern mannan: a hemicellulose's journey. The New phytologist. 2022 May;234(4):1175-1184

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PMID: 35285041

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