Plant cell wall polysaccharides are predominant components of fibres. Natural fibres have a wide range of industrial applications, such as in paper and textile industries. Furthermore, their demand for use as bio-composites in building and automotive applications is also increasing. For the various applications, a gain of control over fibre characteristics is important. Inherent fibre characteristics are largely determined by the ratio and interactions of cellulose and hemicelluloses. Two main strategies for bioengineering fibre properties are reviewed: (i) modifying the cellulose/hemicellulose ratio (by biosynthesis or biodegradation of specific polysaccharides), and (ii) interference with cellulose-hemicellulose interactions using carbohydrate-binding modules. These in planta approaches may have the potential of complementing the currently used surface modification approaches for modifying fibre characteristics.
Key words: natural fibre, cellulose, hemicellulose, interactions, cell wall modification, carbohydrate binding module, cellulose synthase
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