Our Lab is fully committed to contributing to science through research and education; we believe that mission cannot happen without an environment that is open, equitable, and inclusive to all. From our day-to-day interactions to our practices as researchers and teachers, we actively engage in discussions and actions that create an equitable and inclusive space. We make sustained and conscious efforts to provide a space for all voices to be encouraged and heard; we value each other’s diversity. Being a part of our lab means adding to our culture, not conforming to it. Find more about our Lab Values here.
We study patterns in the growth and development of walled organisms.
Want to know more about cell walls? Check out the iBiology video below! Go to iBiology to see more on plant and algal cell walls!
How are shapes physically grown and patterned in walled organisms? While we have accumulated volumes of knowledge on the genes and hormones which underlie such processes, we still know little about how these instructions a physically enacted- and growth is ultimately a physical process. Our research is aimed at understanding how shapes are physically established and grown in walled organisms. The presence of a cell wall in multi-cellular organisms produces two major physical limits to growth: first, the encasement of each cell in a cell wall necessitates changing the wall material in order to generate and alter shape; second, cell walls serve to connect each cell to its neighbours both within and across tissue layers requiring physical growth co-ordination at supra-cellular levels.
We take a systems-level approach by aiming to understand growth at cell, tissue, organ, and organismal levels. We apply and develop quantitative methods, utilize the best biological system to answer our question, and constantly look both forwards and backwards to identify key concepts and tools in the field. Our transdisciplinary approach includes development, plant physiology, cell biology, biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology, materials science, mathematics, and physics.
For plant and algal cells, the cell wall is the main structural element, controlling the shape and growth of the cell and therefore tissue as a whole. Recent work in plants has correlated key aspects of organ growth and shape generation, in plants, with mechanical properties of tissues and cell walls. Our Team has two main goals: 1) to understand the mechanics of shape growth in plants and algae, and 2) to understand the cell wall as a dynamic composite material.