Predict what might happen to multicellular plants if a microorganism that digests pectin was accidentally released from a laboratory.

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gsenviro eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Pectin is an integral component of plant cell wall and is a major constituent of middle lamella. Pectin's major functions are to provide physical strength to the plant and to provide a barrier against external environment. It also helps in plant growth by cell wall extension. Natural breakdown of pectin occurs by enzymatic action during ripening of fruits, which causes the fruits to be become softer. During this process, the middle lamella is broken down and the plant cells are separated from each other. Breakdown of pectin also causes leaves to fall during the autumnal season. If a microorganism that digests pectin is accidentally released from the laboratory, it will digest the pectin of nearby plants. The degradation or loss of pectin will adversely affect the plant cell wall and will cause softening of pectin-containing parts of the plant, including fruits, cell wall, etc. This will ultimately prevent plant growth and cause premature softening of fruits.

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