Standard Article

Cellulose: Structure and Distribution

  1. Bruce Stone

Published Online: 23 SEP 2005

DOI: 10.1038/npg.els.0003892



How to Cite

Stone, B. 2005. Cellulose: Structure and Distribution. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. La Trobe University, Bundoora, Victoria, Australia

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 23 SEP 2005


Cellulose, a (1[RIGHTWARDS ARROW]4)-β-D-glucan, is the most abundant carbohydrate polymer in the biosphere, where it may account for 50% of the carbon. Cellulose has a structural and protective function in walls of plant cells and surfaces of other organisms. The insolubility and high tensile strength of cellulosic materials arises from the regular, extended, ribbon-like conformation of the individual molecules, their enormous lengths and their ability to aggregate into crystalline microfibrils.


  • cell walls;
  • chemistry;
  • conformation;
  • microfibrils;
  • polymorphic forms;
  • taxonomic distribution