• cell wall;
  • cellulose;
  • mutants;
  • FT-IR microspectroscopy


We have developed a novel procedure for the rapid classification and identification of Arabidopsis mutants with altered cell wall architecture based on Fourier-Transform Infrared (FT-IR) microspectroscopy. FT-IR transmission spectra were sampled from native 4-day-old dark-grown hypocotyls of 46 mutants and the wild type treated with various drugs. The Mahalanobis distance between mutants, calculated from the spectral information after compression with the Discriminant Variables Selection procedure, was used for α hierarchical cluster analysis. Despite the completely unsupervised nature of the classification procedure, we show that all mutants with cellulose defects appeared in the same cluster. In addition, mutant alleles of similar strength for several unrelated loci were also clustered, which demonstrates the sensitivity of the method to detect a wide array of cell wall defects. Comparing the cellulose-deficient cluster with the cluster that contained wild-type controls led to the identification of wave numbers that were diagnostic for altered cellulose content in the context of an intact cell wall. The results show that FT-IR spectra can be used to identify different classes of mutants and to characterize cell wall changes at a microscopic level in unknown mutants. This procedure significantly accelerates the identification and classification of cell wall mutants, which makes cell wall polysaccharides more accessible to functional genomics approaches.