I can't seem to find the answer to this. Not even Wikipedia could help- it mentioned bacteria and fungi that have cellulases but not plants. Using my own reasoning, I would think that

  • On the one hand it is better if plant cells do not have cellulases so that they do not break down the cell wall. Although maybe it doesn't matter because the cellulases would not reach the cell wall without being actively transported out of the plasma membrane.
  • Perhaps it might be useful for plants to have cellulase. I don't know if plants have any sort of immune system like humans, but plants also get bacterial and parasitic infections in their cells. Maybe plants should have some mechanism to destroy an unhealthy cell? In that case, the destroying cells would need to use cellulase, would they not?
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16344110 $\endgroup$
    Dec 13, 2016 at 11:31
  • $\begingroup$ @WYSIWYG Thank you for your reply! The article certainly answered my question, but the first sentence also confused me: "Many bacterial genomes contain a cellulose synthase operon together with a cellulase gene, indicating that cellulase is required for cellulose biosynthesis" How does the fact that 'many bacterial genomes contain a cellulose synthase operon together with a cellulase gene' imply that 'cellulase is required for cellulose biosynthesis'? Would be grateful if anyone had any ideas about this! $\endgroup$
    – Meep
    Dec 13, 2016 at 15:42
  • $\begingroup$ I guess that these bacteria also produce cellulase for turnover of cellulose. Just the way all organisms have proteases to enable protein turnover. I did not get time to read that article in detail. I shall post an answer when I get time. $\endgroup$
    Dec 14, 2016 at 8:04

1 Answer 1


At least some plants have cellulases which can be used to cleave primers from mature cellulose chains.

Cellulose synthesis requires chain initiation and elongation (the two processes are separate). CesA glucosyltransferase initiates cellulose polymerization using a steroid primer and UDP-glucose. Cellulose synthase utilizes UDP-D-glucose precursors to elongate the growing cellulose chain. In some plants cellulase is then used to cleave the primer from the mature chain.

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4119035/


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .