Mapping nano-scale mechanical heterogeneity of primary plant cell walls Academic Article uri icon


  • Nanoindentation experiments are performed using an atomic force microscope (AFM) to quantify the spatial distribution of mechanical properties of plant cell walls at nanometre length scales. At any specific location on the cell wall, a complex (non-linear) force-indentation response occurs that can be deconvoluted using a unique multiregime analysis (MRA). This allows an unambiguous evaluation of the local transverse elastic modulus of the wall. Nanomechanical measurements on suspension-cultured cells (SCCs), derived from Italian ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum) starchy endosperm, show three characteristic modes of deformation and a spatial distribution of elastic moduli across the surface. 'Soft' and 'hard' domains are found across length scales between 0.1 µm and 3 µm, which is well above a typical pore size of the polysaccharide mesh. The generality and wider applicability of this mechanical heterogeneity is verified through in planta characterization on leaf epidermal cells of Arabidopsis thaliana and L. multiflorum The outcomes of this research provide a basis for uncovering and quantifying the relationships between local wall composition, architecture, cell growth, and/or morphogenesis.

publication date

  • 2016