Contact

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Dr. Arun Sampathkumar
Phone:+49 331 567-8365

Infrastructure Groups and Service Units

Plant Cell Biology and Microscopy

The group of Dr. Arun Sampathkumar is a central infrastructure group that provides researchers within the institute, with access to advanced imaging platform, as well as assists them in meeting the different cell biological needs of the project. Apart from this, the group uses interdisciplinary approaches associating biology to physics, to decipher biosynthetic and regulatory aspects of plant cell walls. 

The Plant Cell Wall

<p>Depth-color coded images of aligned confocal Z-sections of <em>Arabidopsis</em> inflorescence meristem.</p> Zoom Image

Depth-color coded images of aligned confocal Z-sections of Arabidopsis inflorescence meristem.

The plant cell wall is the largest source of biomass on Earth, and is largely made up of cellulose, non-cellulosic polysaccharides and lignin. Depletion of fossil fuels over the years has created a huge demand for increased biomass production. The potential applications of plant biomass range from feed, food, fuel and biomaterials. Understanding the functional role of genes and mechanisms involved in cell wall biosynthesis is therefore of upmost importance to engineer plants to become a source of affordable and reliable biomass. In spite of the importance of plant cell walls, little is known about the molecular and cell biological workings of the cell wall biosynthetic machinery.

The Mechanics Behind Cell and Tissue Level Morphogenesis

Precise synthesis of cell wall constituents, coupled with remodeling of the existing cell wall matrix, allows for the formation of complex cell and organ shapes. Cellulose, a ß-1,4-linked glucan polymer, synthesized by cellulose synthase complexes constitutes the main load-bearing structure in the plant cell wall. The microtubule cytoskeleton plays an important role in regulating oriented deposition of cellulose. Changes in physical forces on plant cells result in remodeling of the existing microtubule cytoskeleton network. Since the physical force experienced by a cell is dependent on its own cellular geometry, as well as the direction of expansion of its neighbors, there is a complex supra-cellular feedback between physical forces and the physical properties of the cell wall (Sampathkumar et al 2014). 

<span>A depth color-coded set of aligned confocal Z-sections of microtubule arrays (mCherry:TUA5) in <em>Arabidopsis</em> leaf epidermal pavement cells, which exhibit complex polarity.</span> Zoom Image
A depth color-coded set of aligned confocal Z-sections of microtubule arrays (mCherry:TUA5) in Arabidopsis leaf epidermal pavement cells, which exhibit complex polarity. [less]

Our Research

The group employs a wide array of high-resolution imaging and molecular techniques in combination with micromechanical manipulation of physical stress, to address how local and global stresses influence behavior of molecular elements at cellular and tissue levels. This is done in conjuncture with development of finite element based models and measurement of biophysical properties of cell walls, performed in close collaboration with experimental and theoretical physicists. Computational modeling of such systems is also done to test and generate hypothesis. The above method of study employed by the group is termed as COMPUTATIONAL MORPHODYNAMICS.

The questions that the research group is currently trying to address are:

(1) How does cellulose synthase complex behavior at the plasma membrane influence cell shape?

(2) Is the molecular composition and function of the primary cell wall cellulose synthase catalytic core conserved in all cell and tissue types?

(3) What is the contribution of cytoskeleton and its associated proteins in mechano- perception and response?

Would you like to have a look through our different microscopes? In our gallery you will find the most fascinating and gorgeous pictures our scientists took during the course of their research projects.

Microscopy Gallery

Would you like to have a look through our different microscopes? In our gallery you will find the most fascinating and gorgeous pictures our scientists took during the course of their research projects.

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