Modelling the Mechanical Properties of Single Suspension-Cultured Tomato Cells

Changxiang Wang, Lan Wang, Colin Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

115 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND AND AIMS: The relationship between composition and structure of plant primary cell walls, and cell mechanical properties is not fully understood, partly because intrinsic properties of walls such as Young's modulus cannot be obtained readily. The aim of this work is to show that Young's modulus of walls of single suspension-cultured tomato cells can be determined by modelling force-deformation data. METHODS: The model simulates the compression of a cell between two flat surfaces, with the cell treated as a liquid-filled sphere with thin compressible walls. The cell wall and membrane were taken to be permeable, but the compression was so fast that water loss could be neglected in the simulations. Force-deformation data were obtained by compressing the cells in micromanipulation experiments. RESULTS:Good fits were obtained between the model and low-strain experimental data, using the modulus and initial inflation of the cell as adjustable parameters. The mean Young's modulus for 2-week-old cells was found to be 2.3 +/- 0.2 GPa at pH 5. This corresponds to an instantaneous bulk modulus of elasticity of approx. 7 MPa, similar to a value found by the pressure probe method. However, Young's modulus is a better parameter, as it should depend only on the composition and structure of the cell wall, not on bulk cell behaviour. This new method has been used to show that Young's modulus of cultured tomato cell walls is at its lowest at pH 4.5, the pH optimum for expansin activity. CONCLUSIONS:The linear elastic model is very suitable for estimating wall Young's modulus from micromanipulation experiments on single tomato cells. This is a powerful method for determining cell wall material properties.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-453
Number of pages11
JournalAnnals of Botany
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004


Dive into the research topics of 'Modelling the Mechanical Properties of Single Suspension-Cultured Tomato Cells'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this