Physics-Biology interface seminar: Alexis Peaucelle


11:00 - 12:00

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Looking for the mechanical control of growth in plants. Is there a simple law?

Alexis Peaucelle (INRA Versailles/Cambridge University)

Plants are strikingly good at math, especially geometry. One could find parts or full plants shaped as spheres, circles, straight lines, and flat surfaces, golden and right angles and all sorts of exotic and pretty combination of shapes. These shapes are generated through complex tissue growth. We want to understand this puzzling beauty by focusing on the biophysical properties of the cell wall and its related biochemistry. We will present some of our results on dark grown hypocotyl and pavement cells demonstrating that pectin methylesterification status change is necessary for cell and tissue differentiation, growth and is related to changes in cell wall elasticity. Then we will expose puzzling results showing that cell growth rates are proportionate to the elastic stretching of the cell wall (Pressure divided by the Young modulus) and not plastic properties of the cell wall components. Finally, we will present preliminary experiments that could explain this paradox as well as some others such as microtubule partial correlation with oriented growth, and sound-induced plant growth.

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