Xylans with a variety of structures have been characterised in green algae, including chlorophytes (Chlorophyta) and charophytes (in the Streptophyta), and red algae (Rhodophyta). Substituted 1,4-β-D-xylans, similar to those in land plants (embryophytes), occur in the cell wall matrix of advanced orders of charophyte green algae. Small proportions of 1,4-β-D-xylans have also been found in the cell walls of some chlorophyte green algae and red algae but have not been well characterised. 1,3-β-D-Xylans occur as triple helices in microfibrils in the cell walls of chlorophyte algae in the order Bryopsidales and of red algae in the order Bangiales. 1,3;1,4-β-D-Xylans occur in the cell wall matrix of red algae in the orders Palmariales and Nemaliales. In the angiosperm Arabidopsis thaliana, the gene IRX10 encodes a xylan 1,4-β-D-xylosyltranferase (xylan synthase), and, when heterologously expressed, this protein catalysed the production of the backbone of 1,4-β-D-xylans. An orthologous gene from the charophyte green alga Klebsormidium flaccidum, when heterologously expressed, produced a similar protein that was also able to catalyse the production of the backbone of 1,4-β-D-xylans. Indeed, it is considered that land plant xylans evolved from xylans in ancestral charophyte green algae. However, nothing is known about the biosynthesis of the different xylans found in chlorophyte green algae and red algae. There is, thus, an urgent need to identify the genes and enzymes involved.
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