Wall porosity in isolated cells from food plants: implications for nutritional functionality

Haiteng Li, Michael J. Gidley, Sushil Dhital

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Macronutrients in whole plant foods are enclosed inside cells. The metabolic response from these entrapped nutrients may depend on cell-wall porosity, by controlling the passage of digestive enzymes. As non-interacting size mimics of digestive enzymes, we investigated the diffusion of fluorescently-labelled probes across the walls of isolated plant cells from potato tuber, red kidney bean and banana. Diffusion properties of permeable probes, dextran (20-kDa and 70-kDa) and albumin, were quantified, using fluorescence recovery after photobleaching. The consistent reduction of diffusion rate in the presence of cell walls (around 40%) compared to free-diffusion rate was attributed to the limiting porosity of the wall matrix. A combination of the physical barrier effects demonstrated here and non-catalytic binding of enzymes to cell walls limits the hydrolysis of intracellular macronutrients. This and further understanding of the structural basis for the physical barrier properties would help to design foods from plant materials with enhanced nutrition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)416-425
Number of pages10
JournalFood Chemistry
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Cell wall porosity
  • Dextran probes
  • Enzyme resistant starch
  • FRAP
  • Isolated cells

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