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Lignin's orderly structure.

Lignin, the polymeric "glue" that holds together and fills the space between cellulose fibers in woody plants, has a highly organized structure at the molecular level--more organized than most reseachers have hitherto suspected. This discovery is one result from a research program at the Institute of Paper Chemistry in appleton, Wis., aimed at studying how chemical structure is related to the visible form of a plant. The study involves mapping in detail the molecular structure of plant components.

The result isn't particularly suprising to chemist Rajai H. Atalla, who directs the research. Cellulose and hemicellulose within cell wall of woody tissue are highly oriented. It seems unlikely, then, that lignin would be more or less random, he says.

Atalla's experiments show that cellulose chains in the cell walls of wood tissue from black spruce are oriented in planes perpendicular to the cell's cross section, while lignin turns out to be oriented so that most of its rings of carbon atoms are parallel to the plane of the cell wall.
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Publication:Science News
Date:Jun 1, 1985
Words:169
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