Expansins are unique proteins that have a demonstrated effect on the mechanical properties of plant cell walls. They are the only cell wall loosening proteins yet described and appear to play a central role in the control of plant growth.
Flax is an agricultural crop that produces high quality fibres (composed of cell walls) used in the textile and other industries. Qualities such as fibre length and fibre texture are of major importance in the textile industry. Because flax is also very amenable to genetic manipulations it is an ideal plant in which to study the effects of altering expansion levels in transgenic plants. Such studies are likely produce flax with altered fibre size and texture.
The proposal includes:
* expansin characterisation in flax, * gene isolation and sequencing, * expression studies, * transgenic plants with altered levels of expansins, * measurement of cell wall mechanical properties.