Arabidopsis leaf hairs and cotton fibers: translating basic cell biology research to crop improvement


27 August 2019


Dan Szymanski, Purdue University USA


Cotton is a unique crop in that its value arises from the growth behaviors and mechanical properties of groups of individual and highly polarized cells that emerge from the developing seed coat. Important fiber traits like length, diameter, and twist are programmed by complex interactions cellular transport and cell wall synthesis systems. It is therefore possible to engineer these cellular systems to specify fibers with novel or improved traits and increased value. This is a tall order to fill. There are major gaps in our knowledge that preclude rational engineering strategies. We don’t understand how cellular scale transport systems assemble and rearrange during growth to generate reliable growth outputs. Similarly, the assembly mechanisms and mechanical properties of the tough outer cell wall, that ultimately defines the shape change of the cell are poorly understood. This seminar will describe a novel approach to trait engineering in which the combined use of genetics, multi-variate live cell imaging, and finite element computational modeling is used to analyze the how complex cellular systems interact to control cell morphogenesis. Finite element modeling treats the plant cell wall as a thin-walled pressurized shell, and makes testable predictions about what wall properties are needed to generate specific growth outputs. The method capitalizes on the experimental power of the Arabidopsis model plant, and provides a new way to analyze morphogenesis across wide spatial scales. This approach is enabling discoveries about how cell geometry and cell wall stress feedback on intracellular systems during morphogenesis. Cell biological data will be presented that demonstrates the similar growth strategies of Arabidopsis leaf hair and cotton fiber cells, and the potential to engineer fiber traits.


Dan Szymanski is a cell biologist and biochemist at Purdue University, USA. His work focuses on using experimental and computational approaches to analyze morphogenesis at the spatial scales of cells, tissues, and organs. His group also develops proteomic strategies for the high throughput analysis of endogenous protein complexes





Time and Venues

Venues Local Time
Adelaide Waite Campus – B101-FG-R00-SmallWICWest 12:00 pm
Armidale – B37 Liaison Centre 12:30 pm
Bribie Island – B01-FG-Small 12:30 pm
Brisbane St Lucia QBP – Room 3.323 12:30 pm
Canberra Black Mountain – Discovery Lecture Theatre 12:30 pm
Irymple (See Natalie Strickland) 12:30 pm
Narrabri B03-FG-R00-ATCA 12:30 pm
Perth Floreat B40-F1-R46-Rossiter Room 10:30 am
Sandy Bay (Hobart) – B2 F1 R22 Forest View Room 12:30 pm
Toowoomba – Media Lab Room 12:30 pm
Townsville (see Liz Do) 12:30 pm
Werribee (Melbourne) – Peacock Room 12:30 pm