The relationship between molecular organization and mechanical properties in the leaf cell wall with a focus on infection

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield
Department Name: Physics and Astronomy


The plant cell wall plays a critical role in mechanically resisting turgor, defining
morphology and as a barrier against microbial attack. However, the precise
molecular architecture of the cell wall is still poorly understood. We have recently
shown that there is considerable variation in mechanical properties within the
walls of individual cells, between different cell types, and after microbial attack,
linked to local variations in chemical composition; but the details of how
chemistry and molecular organisation leads to function remain elusive. This
project aims to use and develop cutting edge biophysical imaging techniques, in
particular atomic force microscopy (AFM) and super-resolution (SR) optical
microscopy, to elucidate the molecular organization of the cell wall in
unprecedented detail. Once this basis of new information has been obtained, we
will use it to explore the role played by the glucan-polymer callose in reshaping
and reinforcing the cell wall following fungal attack, which in future may inform
the development of novel anti-fungal agents. The project will build on
internationally leading developments in the application of AFM to cell wall
systems, and in the use of SR optical microscopy to follow cell wall growth in


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M011151/1 30/09/2015 29/09/2023
2283077 Studentship BB/M011151/1 30/09/2019 29/09/2023 Freya Bottom