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Are cell wall traits a component of the succulent syndrome?

  • Fradera-Soler, Marc1, 2
  • Leverett, Alistair3, 4
  • Mravec, Jozef1, 5
  • Jørgensen, Bodil1
  • Borland, Anne M.3
  • Grace, Olwen M.2
  • 1 Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Frederiksberg , (Denmark)
  • 2 Department of Accelerated Taxonomy, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey , (United Kingdom)
  • 3 School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, Newcastle University, Newcastle Upon Tyne , (United Kingdom)
  • 4 School of Life Sciences, University of Essex, Colchester , (United Kingdom)
  • 5 Institute of Plant Genetics and Biotechnology, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Plant Science and Biodiversity Center, Nitra , (Slovakia)
Published Article
Frontiers in Plant Science
Frontiers Media SA
Publication Date
Nov 25, 2022
DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2022.1043429
  • Plant Science
  • Perspective


Succulence is an adaptation to low water availability characterised by the presence of water-storage tissues that alleviate water stress under low water availability. The succulent syndrome has evolved convergently in over 80 plant families and is associated with anatomical, physiological and biochemical traits. Despite the alleged importance of cell wall traits in drought responses, their significance in the succulent syndrome has long been overlooked. Here, by analyzing published pressure–volume curves, we show that elastic adjustment, whereby plants change cell wall elasticity, is uniquely beneficial to succulents for avoiding turgor loss. In addition, we used comprehensive microarray polymer profiling (CoMPP) to assess the biochemical composition of cell walls in leaves. Across phylogenetically diverse species, we uncover several differences in cell wall biochemistry between succulent and non-succulent leaves, pointing to the existence of a ‘succulent glycome’. We also highlight the glycomic diversity among succulent plants, with some glycomic features being restricted to certain succulent lineages. In conclusion, we suggest that cell wall biomechanics and biochemistry should be considered among the characteristic traits that make up the succulent syndrome.

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