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Self-calibration of structural engineering in plant shoots

Presented by: 
Naomi Nakayama
Friday 18th September 2015 - 14:15 to 15:00
INI Seminar Room 1
The shapes of living organisms are determined not only by their physiological function, but also by the engineering stability of their body. Recently mechanical parameters of tissues are emerging as important regulators of multicellular development; both intrinsic and external mechanical stimuli can impact cell division, growth, and differentiation. This is particularly the case in plants, which can adjust their morphology and anatomy according to the mechanical demands imposed upon them. How plants sense and respond to mechanical stimuli to sustain their structural stability is an exciting question that remains largely unexplored. My group aims to comprehend mechanically induced developmental plasticity in the model plant Arabidopsis, through a highly integrative programme encompassing biochemistry and systems biology to computer simulation and material science analyses. Self-stabilisation of plant shoot engineering is mediated by the accumulation dynamics of phytohormone au xin, a major morphogen in plants that is sensitive to mechanical strain and stress. We are currently developing a microfluidics platform to characterise mechano-sensing and immediate responses at the cellular level. Since engineering stability of plants is also crucial to agriculture, we are also exploring improvement of cereal grain production via mechanical stimulation. Specifically, we are investigating the molecular and engineering mechanisms behind a longstanding agricultural practice in Japan called mugi-fumi, which reduces structural failure of wheat and barley plants by simple mechanical treatments.

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University of Cambridge Research Councils UK
    Clay Mathematics Institute London Mathematical Society NM Rothschild and Sons