Polysaccharide Structures in the Outer Mucilage of Arabidopsis Seeds Visualized by AFM

© 2020 American Chemical Society. Evidence is presented that the polysaccharide rhamnogalacturonan I (RGI) can be biosynthesized in remarkably organized branched configurations and surprisingly long versions and can self-assemble into a plethora of structures. AFM imaging has been applied to study the outer mucilage obtained from wild-type (WT) and mutant (bxl1-3 and cesa5-1) Arabidopsis thaliana seeds. For WT mucilage, ordered, multichain structures of the polysaccharide RGI were observed, with a helical twist visible in favorable circumstances. Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations demonstrated the stability of several possible multichain complexes and the possibility of twisted fibril formation. For bxl1-3 seeds, the imaged polymers clearly showed the presence of side chains. These were surprisingly regular and well organized with an average length of ∼100 nm and a spacing of ∼50 nm. The heights of the side chains imaged were suggestive of single polysaccharide chains, while the backbone was on average 4 times this height and showed regular height variations along its length consistent with models of multichain fibrils examined in MD. Finally, in mucilage extracts from cesa5-1 seeds, a minor population of chains in excess of 30 μm long was observed.