Secondary cell wall

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The secondary cell wall is a structure found in many plant cells, located between the primary cell wall and the plasma membrane. The cell starts producing the secondary cell wall after the primary cell wall is complete and the cell has stopped expanding.[1]

Secondary cell walls provide additional protection to cells and rigidity and strength to the larger plant. These walls are constructed of layered sheaths of cellulose microfibrils, wherein the fibers are in parallel within each layer. The inclusion of lignin makes the secondary cell wall less flexible and less permeable to water than the primary cell wall.[2] In addition to making the walls more resistant to degradation, the hydrophobic nature of lignin within these tissues is essential for containing water within the vascular tissues that carry it throughout the plant.

The secondary cell wall consists primarily of cellulose, along with other polysaccharides, lignin, and glycoprotein. It sometimes consists of three distinct layers - S1, S2 and S3 - where the direction of the cellulose microfibrils differs between the layers.[1]

Plant cell overview, showing secondary cell wall.

The secondary cell wall has different ratios of constituents compared to the primary wall. An example of this is that secondary wall in wood contain polysaccharides called xylan, whereas the primary wall contains the polysaccharide xyloglucan. The cellulose fraction in secondary walls is also higher.[3] Pectins may also be absent from the secondary wall, and unlike primary walls, no structural proteins or enzymes have been identified.[2] Because of the low permeability through the secondary cell wall, cellular transport is carried out through openings in the wall called pits.

Wood consists mostly of secondary cell wall, and holds the plant up against gravity.[4]

Some secondary cell walls store nutrients, such as those in the cotyledons and the endosperm. These contain little cellulose, and mostly other polysaccharides.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Buchanan, Gruissem, Jones, Biochemistry & molecular biology of plants, 1st edition, American Society of Plant Physiology, 2000
  2. ^ a b Raven, P. H., R. F. Evert, et al. (1999). Biology of plants. New York, W.H. Freeman : Worth Publishers.
  3. ^ Taiz, L. and E. Zeiger (2006). Plant physiology. Sunderland, Mass., Sinauer Associates.
  4. ^ Campbell, Reece, Biology, 7th edition, Pearson/Benjamin Cummings, 2005