Biophysics and Development

The team focuses on morphogenesis at the shoot apex, and more precisely at the shoot apical meristem and in flower primordia. Our research can be grouped into four categories:
- Mechanics of morphogenesis
- Floral Growth Patterns
- Mechanical Feedbacks
- Modelling Plant Morphogenesis

Team members

Our publications

We recruit

Team schedule

Mechanics of Morphogenesis

Leader : Arezki Boudaoud

PNG - 23.1 kb Morphogenesis is the remarkable process by which a developing organism acquires its shape. While molecular and genetic studies have been highly successful in explaining the cellular basis of development and the role of biochemical gradients in coordinating cell fate, understanding morphogenesis remains a central challenge for both developmental biology and biophysics. Indeed, shape is imposed by structural elements, so that an investigation of morphogenesis must address how these elements are controlled at the cell level, and how the mechanical properties of these elements lead to specific growth patterns. Using plants as model systems, we tackle the following questions. (i) Does the genetic and molecular identity of a cell correspond to a mechanical identity. (ii) Do the mechanical properties of the different cell domains predict shape changes. (iii) How does the intrinsic stochasticity of cell mechanics and cell growth lead to reproducible shapes?

Floral Growth Patterns

Leader : Pradeep Das

The emergence of stereotypical shapes and sizes of tissues and organs requires the coordinated regulation of very specific growth patterns across space and time during development. We seek to gain a clear understanding of how the underlying molecular, genetic and physical events govern growth. The most obvious way to measure and describe growth is at the cellular level. Over the last several years, we have developed a software pipeline to computationally track the growth of Arabidopsis flowers at cell resolution and in 4 dimensions (space and time; Fernandez et al., Nature Methods, 2010). We are now in the process of using segmented time course data to statistically analyse floral growth leading up to the first morphogenetic events. Naturally, these patterns are a result of the genetic and mechanical events occurring during development. To this end, we are also examining the link between growth and patterning, and between patterning and mechanics.

Mechanical Feedbacks

Leader : Olivier Hamant

PNG - 41.1 kb Development relies on a complex network of molecular effectors that ultimately modify the mechanical properties of cells and control shape changes. In turn, mechanical forces can also feedback on the molecular network to govern development. Several mechanosensitive proteins have been identified in animals but their role in multicellular development remains poorly documented. Plants are ideal systems to study mechanotransduction in development because their mechanics is mainly mediated by the cell wall. We have already characterized the response of microtubules to mechanical stress using a set of micromechanical tools (e.g. Hamant et al., 2008 Science, Uyttewaal et al., 2012 Cell) and we propose to investigate the role of mechanotrasnduction in plant development, using Arabidopsis cell culture, cotyledons and shoot apical meristems as experimental systems.

Modelling Plant Morphogenesis

Leader : Annamaria Kiss

PNG - 21.1 kb In order to be able to model the emergence of an organ’s shape, it is essential to begin with the analysis of data in connection with morphogenesis. Specifically, we carry out the quantitative and statistical analyses of serial images of developing organs, such as leaves, flowers or meristems. In parallel, we are also developing simplified mechanical models of a growing plant tissue. By implementing hypotheses on mechanical properties at the cellular level, we are seeking to reproduce the emergence of forms at the tissular level.