Conquering the Great Wall

How research into plant cell walls is improving our health and boosting production of biofuels

The cell walls of plants are quite remarkable. Not only are they incredibly strong, in some species stronger than steel, but in the case of cereal crops they also hold enormous promise in the areas of human health and renewable energy.

The University of Adelaide’s Centre for Tectonics, Resources and Exploration (TRaX) was established to conduct research in both these directions. And progress is being made.

Constituents of the cell wall have been shown to greatly reduce the risk of contracting many serious diet-related conditions, including Type II Diabetes, cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer. Their use for the production of bioethanol has attracted much interest from the biofuels sector.

Previously, a major barrier to realising these benefits has been an incomplete understanding of how cell wall fine structure is biologically defined and modified. Research at the University of Adelaide is helping to change that and in this presentation Professor Geoff Fincher will explain how.

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About the Speaker

Professor Geoff Fincher is the Director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls at the University of Adelaide’s Waite Campus. He is a former winner of the F.B Guthrie Award, the highest honour of the Royal Australian Chemistry Institute’s Division of Cereal Chemistry.

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