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Durham e-Theses
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Algal biopolymers: Diversity of charophytic and
chlorophytic cell walls

RAPIN, MARIE,NICOLE (2023) Algal biopolymers: Diversity of charophytic and
chlorophytic cell walls.
Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Charophytic green algae are an under-explored, widely diverse division of the streptophytes.
Exploring their polysaccharides’ properties could shine light on new under-exploited
biomaterial sources. Initial experiments were performed on both early and late-diverging
charophytic species; plus a bryophyte (Anthoceros caucasicus) and a chlorophyte (Ulva
linza). They aimed at extracting and analysing, via classical ‘land-plant methods’, the
different polysaccharide fractions (conventionally described as pectin, hemicellulose, and
cellulose) present in algal cell walls. The bryophyte and the late-diverging charophytes
(Chara vulgaris, Charales and Coleochaete scutata, Coleochaetales) showed similar features,
both in terms of extractability and sugar residue compositions, to land plants. All the species
were screened for the presence of the land-plant-specific polymers xyloglucan and
rhamnogalacturonan-II, alongside species from the late-diverging charophytic order
Zygnematales, via in vivo 14CO2 labelling followed by enzymatic hydrolysis of their cell walls.
Xyloglucan-like oligomers were visible in zygnemataleans, but the key dimer isoprimeverose
could not be conclusively detected. An RG-II-like polymer was present in the cell walls of
axenic Chara (Charales). During the initial experiment, early-diverging charophytes
presented distinctive characteristics. Upon further characterisation, the extractability of the
uronic acid-free ‘pectic’ polysaccharide in Klebsormidium was described. Some sections of
the polymers were characterised, namely rhamnoxylan and galactoxylan. The basal species
Chlorokybus showed the presence of the previously unknown dimer β-D-GlcpA-(1→4)-L-Gal.
Its ‘pectic’ fraction was found to be sulphated, contained L-Gal but not D-Gal, and was made
up of two distinct polymers, different by their ionisation degree, sulphation degree, and
susceptibility to hydrolysis. Finally, an investigation on the seaweed Ulva was conducted. In
particular, the ‘hemicellulosic’ fraction was characterised using biochemical and
spectroscopic methods: phyco-xyloglucan was found to be a linear β-(1,4)-polymer of
glucose and xylose, featuring xylose stretches up to four residues long, and with a much
greater affinity for cellulose than that of many well-known land-plant-specific polymers.
Overall, this work indicates the presence of previously unidentified polysaccharides in algal
cell walls, making the harnessing of such widely available biomass possible and desirable.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:polysaccharide, charophyte, chlorophyte, algae, evolution
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Science > Biological and Biomedical Sciences, School of
Thesis Date:2023
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:12 May 2023 14:02

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