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Stereochemical identification of glucans by a donor–acceptor–donor conjugated pentamer enables multi-carbohydrate anatomical mapping in plant tissues

Research Square

Research Square

  • First Author :
    Ferdinand X Chong
  • Co-authors :
    Linda Lantz,Hamid Shirani,Anette Schulz,K. Peter, R. Nilsson, Ulrica Edlund, Agneta Richter-Dahlfors
  • Journal Name :
    Springer - Cellulose
  • Read Full text :
  • DOI :

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Optotracing is a novel method for analytical imaging of carbohydrates in plant and microbial tissues. This optical method applies structure-responsive oligothiophenes as molecular fluorophores emitting unique optical signatures when bound to polysaccharides. Herein, we apply Carbotrace™680, a short length anionic oligothiophene with a central heterocyclic benzodithiazole (BTD) motif, to probe for different glucans. The donor–acceptor–donor type electronic structure of Carbotrace™680 provides improved spectral properties compared to oligothiophenes due to the possibility of intramolecular charge-transfer transition to the BTD motif. This enables differentiation of glucans based on the glycosidic linkage stereochemistry. Thus α-configured starch is readily differentiated from β-configured cellulose. The versatility of optotracing is demonstrated by dynamic monitoring of thermo-induced starch remodelling, shown in parallel by spectrophotometry and microscopy of starch granules. Imaging of Carbotrace™680 bound to multiple glucans in plant tissues provided direct identification of their physical locations, revealing the spatial relationship between structural (cellulose) and storage (starch) glucans at sub-cellular scale. Our work forms the basis for the development of superior optotracers for sensitive detection of polysaccharides. Our non-destructive method for anatomical mapping of glucans in biomass will serve as an enabling technology for developments towards efficient use of plant-derived materials and biomass.

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