The role of the primary cell wall in plant morphogenesis

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© 2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Morphogenesis remains a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. It remains a formidable problem viewed from many different perspectives of morphology, genetics, and computational modelling. We propose a biochemical reductionist approach that shows how both internal and external physical forces contribute to plant morphogenesis via mechanical stress–strain transduction from the primary cell wall tethered to the plasma membrane by a specific arabinogalactan protein (AGP). The resulting stress vector, with direction defined by Hechtian adhesion sites, has a magnitude of a few piconewtons amplified by a hypothetical Hechtian growth oscillator. This paradigm shift involves stress-activated plasma membrane Ca2+ channels and auxin-activated H+-ATPase. The proton pump dissociates periplasmic AGP-glycomodules that bind Ca2+. Thus, as the immediate source of cytosolic Ca2+, an AGP-Ca2+ capacitor directs the vectorial exocytosis of cell wall precursors and auxin efflux (PIN) proteins. In toto, these components comprise the Hechtian oscillator and also the gravisensor. Thus, interdependent auxin and Ca2+ morphogen gradients account for the predominance of AGPs. The size and location of a cell surface AGP-Ca2+ capacitor is essential to differentiation and explains AGP correlation with all stages of morphogenetic patterning from embryogenesis to root and shoot. Finally, the evolutionary origins of the Hechtian oscillator in the unicellular Chlorophycean algae reflect the ubiquitous role of chemiosmotic proton pumps that preceded DNA at the dawn of life.