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Concept: Fiber crop


It is generally assumed that the production of plant fibre textiles in ancient Europe, especially woven textiles for clothing, was closely linked to the development of agriculture through the use of cultivated textile plants (flax, hemp). Here we present a new investigation of the 2800 year old Lusehøj Bronze Age Textile from Voldtofte, Denmark, which challenges this assumption. We show that the textile is made of imported nettle, most probably from the Kärnten-Steiermark region, an area which at the time had an otherwise established flax production. Our results thus suggest that the production of woven plant fibre textiles in Bronze Age Europe was based not only on cultivated textile plants but also on the targeted exploitation of wild plants. The Lusehøj find points to a hitherto unrecognized role of nettle as an important textile plant and suggests the need for a re-evaluation of textile production resource management in prehistoric Europe.

Concepts: Cotton, Textile, Hemp, Flax, Prehistory, Textiles, Fiber crop, Synoptic table of the principal old world prehistoric cultures


Nowadays most plant textiles used for clothing and household are made of cotton and viscose. Before the 19th century however, plant textiles were mainly made from locally available raw materials, in Scandinavia these were: nettle, hemp and flax. It is generally believed that in Viking and early Middle Ages Scandinavia hemp was used only for coarse textiles (i.e. rope and sailcloth). Here we present an investigation of 10 Scandinavian plant fibre textiles from the Viking and Early Middle Ages, believed to be locally produced. Up till now they were all believed to be made of flax. We show that 4 textiles, including two pieces of the famous Överhogdal Viking wall-hanging are in fact made with hemp (in three cases hemp and flax are mixed). This indicates that hemp was important, not only for coarse but also for fine textile production in Viking and Early Middle Ages in Scandinavia.

Concepts: Middle Ages, Cotton, Textile, Hemp, Flax, 19th century, Germanic peoples, Fiber crop


The development and application of bio-sourced composites have been gaining wide attention, yet their deterioration due to the growth of ubiquitous microorganisms during storage/manufacturing/in-service phases is still not fully understood for optimum material selection and design purposes. In this study, samples of non-woven flax fibers, hemp fibers, and mats made of co-mingled randomly-oriented flax or hemp fiber (50%) and polypropylene fiber (50%) were subjected to 28 days of exposure to (i) no water-no fungi, (ii) water only and (iii) water along with the Chaetomium globosum fungus. Biocomposite samples were measured for weight loss over time, to observe the rate of fungal growth and the respiration of cellulose components in the fibers. Tensile testing was conducted to measure mechanical properties of the composite samples under different configurations. Scanning electron microscopy was employed to visualize fungal hyphal growth on the natural fibers, as well as to observe the fracture planes and failure modes of the biocomposite samples. Results showed that fungal growth significantly affects the dry mass as well as the tensile elastic modulus of the tested natural fiber mats and composites, and the effect depends on both the type and the length scale of fibers, as well as the exposure condition and time.

Concepts: Fungus, Hypha, Tensile strength, Fiber, Cellulose, Fibers, Fiber crop, Animal fiber


A novel experimental setup is presented to reveal damage mechanisms in bast fibers. 3D imaging at submicronic scale based on X-ray micro-tomography is combined with in-situ tensile experiments of both elementary fibers and bundles. The results reveal that the relevant scale that drives failure of hemp lignocellulosic fibers is submicronic. In-situ tensile experiments assisted by X-ray micro-tomography shows complex damage mechanisms involving the constitutive sub-layer structure, fiber extraction defects like kink bands, and the tubular porosity of the natural fiber.

Concepts: Science, Nylon, Tensile strength, Fiber, Fibers, Fiber crop, Bast fibre, Animal fiber


We have studied the effects of silane coupling agents used for the surface treatment of fiber on the tribological properties of hemp fiber (HF) reinforced plant-derived polyamide 1010 (PA1010) biomass composites. Hemp fibers were surface-treated by two surface treatment methods: (a) alkali treatment by sodium hydroxide solution and (b) surface treatment by silane coupling agents. Three types of silane coupling agents, namely aminosilane, epoxysilane and ureidosilane were used. These HF/PA1010 biomass composites were extruded using a twin extruder, and injection-molded. The mechanical and tribological properties were evaluated by the ring-on-plate type sliding wear test. It was found that tribological properties of HF/PA1010 biomass composites improved with the surface treatment by the silane coupling agent. This may be attributed to the change in the mode of friction and wear mechanism by the interfacial adhesion between fiber and matrix polymer according to the type of silane coupling agent used. In particular, the ureidosilane coupling agent showed the best improvement effect for the tribological properties of these biomass composites in this study.

Concepts: Nylon, Fiber, Sodium hydroxide, Friction, Tribology, Surface engineering, Hemp, Fiber crop


Classical field retting and controlled fungal retting of hemp using Phlebia radiata Cel 26 (a mutant with low cellulose degrading ability) were compared with pure pectinase treatment with regard to mechanical properties of the produced fibre/epoxy composites. For field retting a classification of the microbial evolution (by gene sequencing) and enzyme profiles were conducted. By phylogenetic frequency mapping, different types of fungi, many belonging to the Ascomycota phylum were found on the fibres during the first 2 weeks of field retting, and thereafter, different types of bacteria, notably Proteobacteria, also proliferated on the field retted fibres. Extracts from field retted fibres exhibited high glucanase activities, while extracts from P. radiata Cel 26 retted fibres showed high polygalacturonase and laccase activities. As a result, fungal retting gave a significantly higher glucan content in the fibres than field retting (77 vs. 67%) and caused a higher removal of pectin as indicated by lower galacturonan content of fibres (1.6%) after fibres were retted for 20 days with P. radiata Cel 26 compared to a galacturonan content of 3.6% for field retted fibres. Effective fibre stiffness increased slightly after retting with P. radiata Cel 26 from 65 to 67 GPa, while it decreased after field retting to 52 GPa. Effective fibre strength could not be determined similarly due to variations in fibre fracture strain and fibre-matrix adhesion. A maximum composite strength with 50 vol% fibres of 307 MPa was obtained using P. radiata Cel 26 compared to 248 MPa with field retting.

Concepts: Bacteria, Fungus, Nylon, Tensile strength, Dietary fiber, Ascomycota, Fiberglass, Fiber crop


A total of 130 flax accessions of diverse morphotypes and worldwide origin were assessed for genetic diversity and population structure using 11 morphological traits and microsatellite markers (15 gSSRs and 7 EST-SSRs). Analysis performed after classifying these accessions on the basis of plant height, branching pattern, seed size, Indian/foreign origin into six categories called sub-populations viz. fibre type exotic, fibre type indigenous, intermediate type exotic, intermediate type indigenous, linseed type exotic and linseed type indigenous. The study assessed different diversity indices, AMOVA, population structure and included a principal coordinate analysis based on different marker systems. The highest diversity was exhibited by gSSR markers (SI=0.46; He=0.31; P=85.11). AMOVA based on all markers explained significant difference among fibre type, intermediate type and linseed type populations of flax. In terms of variation explained by different markers, EST-SSR markers (12%) better differentiated flax populations compared to morphological (9%) and gSSR (6%) markers at P=0.01. The maximum Nei’s unbiased genetic distance (D=0.11) was observed between fibre type and linseed type exotic sub-populations based on EST-SSR markers. The combined structure analysis by using all markers grouped Indian fibre type accessions (63.4%) in a separate cluster along with the Indian intermediate type (48.7%), whereas Indian accessions (82.16%) of linseed type constituted an independent cluster. These findings were supported by the results of the principal coordinate analysis. Morphological markers employed in the study found complementary with microsatellite based markers in deciphering genetic diversity and population structure of the flax germplasm.

Concepts: Scientific method, Plant, Flax, Linum, Fiber crop


The major mechanism of gravitropism that is discussed for herbal plants is based on the nonuniform elongation of cells located on the opposite stem sides, occurring in the growing zone of an organ. However, gravitropic response of flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) is well-pronounced in the lower half of developing stem, which has ceased elongation long in advance of plant inclination. We have analyzed the stem curvature region by various approaches of microscopy and found the undescribed earlier significant modifications in primary phloem fibers that have constitutively developed G-layer. In fibers on the pulling stem side, cell portions were widened with formation of “bottlenecks” between them, leading to the “sausage-like” shape of a cell. Lumen diameter in fiber widening increased, while cell wall thickness decreased. Callose was deposited in proximity to bottlenecks and sometimes totally occluded their lumen. Structure of fiber cell wall changed considerably, with formation of breaks between G- and S-layers. Thick fibrillar structures that were revealed in fiber cell wall by light microscopy got oblique orientation instead of parallel to the fiber axis one in control plants. The described changes occurred at various combinations of gravitational and mechanical stimuli. Thus, phloem fibers with constitutively formed gelatinous cell wall, located in nonelongating parts of herbal plant, are involved in gravitropism and may become an important element in general understanding of the gravity effects on plants. We suggest flax phloem fibers as the model system to study the mechanism of plant position correction, including signal perception and transduction.

Concepts: Plant, Cell wall, Root, Dietary fiber, Phloem, Flax, Linum, Fiber crop


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) play a critical role in responses to biotic and abiotic stress and have been characterized in a large number of plant species. Although flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) is one of the most important fiber and oil crops worldwide, no reports have been published describing flax miRNAs (Lus-miRNAs) induced in response to saline, alkaline, and saline-alkaline stresses.

Concepts: Plant, Water, Flowering plant, Flax, Linum, Linseed oil, Fiber crop, Linen


This paper describes a method for optical projection tomography for the 3D in situ characterization of micrometric plant fibers. The proposed approach is based on digital holographic microscopy, the holographic capability being convenient to compensate for the runout of the fiber during rotations. The setup requires a telecentric alignment to prevent from the changes in the optical magnification, and calibration results show the very good experimental adjustment. Amplitude images are obtained from the set of recorded and digitally processed holograms. Refocusing of blurred images and correction of both runout and jitter are carried out to get appropriate amplitude images. The 3D data related to the plant fiber are computed from the set of images using a dedicated numerical processing. Experimental results exhibit the internal and external shapes of the plant fiber. These experimental results constitute the first attempt to obtain 3D data of flax fiber, about 12  μm×17  μm in apparent diameter, with a full-field optical tomography approach using light in the visible range.

Concepts: Optics, Coherence, Magnification, Fiber, Lens, Flax, Fibers, Fiber crop