Mechanistic studies of plant development would benefit from an in vitro model that mimics the endogenous physical interactions between cells and their microenvironment. Here, we present artificial scaffolds to which both solid- and liquid-cultured tobacco BY-2 cells adhere without perturbing cell morphology, division, and cortical microtubule organization. Scaffolds consisting of polyvinylidene tri-fluoroethylene (PVDF-TrFE) were prepared to mimic the cell wall's fibrillar structure and its relative hydrophobicity and piezoelectric property. We found that cells adhered best to scaffolds consisting of nanosized aligned fibers. In addition, poling of PVDF-TrFE, which orients the fiber dipoles and renders the scaffold more piezoelectric, increased cell adhesion. Enzymatic treatments revealed that the plant cell wall polysaccharide, pectin, is largely responsible for cell adhesion to scaffolds, analogous to pectin-mediated cell adhesion in plant tissues. Together, this work establishes the first plant biomimetic scaffolds that will enable studies of how cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions affect plant developmental pathways.
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