What is it about?
Biomechanics research reveals surprising age properties of plant cell walls and shows how daughter cells can change their local shape and influence the growth of whole plant organs. This is the first time that scientists have related mechanics to plant cell wall “age” using a new method that follows the same cells over time and through successive rounds of division. This pioneering work showed that new cell walls in some plants are 1.5 times stiffer than the surrounding parental cell walls – an unexpected and surprising finding.
Photo by Francesco Gallarotti on Unsplash
Why is it important?
The size and shape of plant organs like leaves and flowers is the result of complex interactions between genetics, signalling, mechanical feedback, and environmental cues. This research shows that there are significant differences in the stiffness of new cells walls compared to parental walls and that these differences contribute to the cell’s geometry and growth. This suggests cell division and its varying mechanical properties alters the rate of tissue expansion and could impact final organ size.
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This page is a summary of: Stiffness transitions in new walls post-cell division differ between
thaliana leaves, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, October 2023, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
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Behind the research
Alessandra Bonfanti, working in Sarah Robinsons's Research Group, developed a protocol that combines time-course imaging with atomic force microscopy measurements (AFM) to systematically map the age, growth and mechanical properties (stiffness) of individual cells walls and to follow the same cell walls through successive rounds of division
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