Research

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THE CELL WALL AND DEVELOPMENT

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Cell wall elasticity in a young Arabidopsis thaliana seedling, as determined by Atomic Force Microscopy; methods for AFM-based cell mechanical assessment were pioneered in our group.

As a group, we focus a large effort on understanding how shapes are generated during plant development.
This entails detailing the process of shape generation, describing the changes in cell wall mechanics and chemistry that accompany shape generation, and dissecting the underlying molecular control mechanisms for these changes. We are also interested in the relationship between cell walls and development in algae, with a major focus on brown algae.

Currently we have several ongoing projects:

1) Phyllotactic Patterning at the shoot apex

2) Anisotropic elongation of organs during early seedling growth

3) Leaf patterning and shape formation

4) Pavement cell shape generation

5) Comparative cell wall mechanics between plants and algae

THE CELL WALL AS A MATERIAL
Onion epidermal cells exposed after mechanical separation. Scanning electron micrograph.
Onion epidermal cells exposed after mechanical separation. Scanning electron micrograph.

We are also actively involved in understanding how the material properties of the cell wall, a biological composite material, contribute to its ability to control plant development.
In order to really understand what is happening in development, we need to get a grasp on how the cell wall behaves as a material, what components and structures contribute to which behaviors, and how these behaviors affect physical processes such as extension, new material deposition, and diffusion.

Currently we have several ongoing projects:

1) The mechanical behaviors of cell wall composite materials

2) Cell wall composition and chemistry and its effect on cell wall agents

3) The effects of wall alterations on simple cell shapes (in plants and algae)
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Exploring the world of plant cell mechanics

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