Over the past 15 years, our research activities have focused on developing methodologies that would help us better understand cell wall formation in hypolignified, cellulose-rich bast fibers located in the outer tissues of flax (and hemp) stems. In general, plant cells with secondary cell walls contain high levels of lignin (e.g., 25-30% in xylem cell walls). In contrast, the cell walls of flax bast fibers contain only about 4% lignin, despite having a thick secondary cell wall. The central biological question was therefore, "Why is the secondary cell wall of bast fiber so poorly lignified?". This question is of both fundamental and applied interest because bast fibers are used to make textiles (e.g., linen from flax) and to reinforce natural fiber composite (NFC) materials that are used in the construction and transportation industries. In both cases, the amount of lignin, as well as other polymers, in the cell wall has a direct impact on fiber quality.

Historically, the Plant Fiber team was formed in 2006 when S. Hawkins and G. Neutelings (ex. LPPV: Laboratoire de Physiologie des Parois Végétales) joined the UMR INRA SADV. In 2015, the "Plant Cell Wall Dynamics" team joined the UGSF . During this period, we structured our research around 3 closely interacting themes:

  • Construction, 
  • Variability and
  • Degradation.