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Biological matrix composites from cultured plant cells

Roumeli, Eleftheria and Hendrickx, Rodinde and Bonanomi, Luca and Vashisth, Aniruddh and Rinaldi, Katherine and Daraio, Chiara (2022) Biological matrix composites from cultured plant cells. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 119 (15). Art. No. e2119523119. ISSN 0027-8424. PMCID PMC9169740. doi:10.1073/pnas.2119523119.

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We present an approach to fabricate biological matrix composites made entirely from cultured plant cells. We utilize the cell’s innate ability to synthesize nanofibrillar cell walls, which serve as the composite’s fundamental building blocks. Following a controlled compression/dehydration process, the cells arrange into lamellar structures with hierarchical features. We demonstrate that the native cell wall nanofibrils tether adjacent cells together through fibrillar interlocking and intermolecular hydrogen bonding. These interactions facilitate intercellular adhesion and eliminate the need for other binders. Our fabrication process utilizes the entire plant cell, grown in an in vitro culture; requires no harsh chemical treatments or waste-generating extraction or selection processes; and leads to bulk biocomposites that can be produced in situ and biodegrade in soil. The final mechanical properties are comparable to commodity plastics and can be further modulated by introducing filler particles.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Information Paper
Roumeli, Eleftheria0000-0002-2828-1428
Vashisth, Aniruddh0000-0002-4740-1296
Rinaldi, Katherine0000-0002-0746-2852
Daraio, Chiara0000-0001-5296-4440
Alternate Title:Plant cells-based biological matrix composites
Additional Information:© 2022 the Author(s). Published by PNAS. This article is distributed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License 4.0 (CC BY-NC-ND). Edited by Joanna Aizenberg, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA; received November 6, 2021; accepted February 3, 2022. Published April 4, 2022. We thank Mr. M. Ladinsky, Dr. S. Amanatidis, Dr. A. M. Jimenez, Dr. Y.Wei,Dr. M. Mello,Mr. A. Carim, Ms. S. Antilla, and Mr.D. A.Nguyen for support in experiments.We thank Dr. R. Di Giacomo for useful discussions and Prof. N. Lewis for providing access to the Raman facilities.We thank Caltech Kavli Nanoscience Institute, Gordon and Betty Moore, and the Beckman Foundation for support of electron microscopy facilities and the Caltech Beckman Institute and the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation for supporting the laser scanning imaging facilities. This work was supported in part by the Resnick Sustainability Institute at Caltech. Author contributions: E.R., L.B., and C.D. designed research; E.R., R.H., L.B., A.V., and K.R. performed research; E.R. and A.V. analyzed data; and E.R. and C.D. wrote the paper. The authors declare no competing interest. Data Availability: All study data are included in the article and/or SI Appendix. This article contains supporting information online at
Group:Kavli Nanoscience Institute, Resnick Sustainability Institute
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Kavli Nanoscience InstituteUNSPECIFIED
Gordon and Betty Moore FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Arnold and Mabel Beckman FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Resnick Sustainability InstituteUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:sustainable materials; biocomposites; biopolymers
Issue or Number:15
PubMed Central ID:PMC9169740
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20190918-130321479
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Roumeli E, Hendrickx R, Bonanomi L, Vashisth A, Rinaldi K, Daraio C. Biological matrix composites from cultured plant cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2022 Apr 12;119(15):e2119523119. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2119523119.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:98723
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:18 Sep 2019 20:09
Last Modified:14 Jul 2022 17:18

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