The plant cell's corset

Sep 02, 2009

We still have a lot to discover about the mechanism in plants that ensures cell growth in a specific direction. However it is clear that a structure of parallel protein tubes plays an important role. Simon Tindemans investigated this structure during his doctoral research at the FOM Institute for Atomic and Molecular Physics, The Netherlands. According to him small 'catastrophic collisions' are a crucial part of the process leading to its creation.

Unlike humans, plants cannot depend on a skeleton for their rigidity. Instead nearly all have to contribute to this. If a plant becomes taller, and therefore the cells longer, then the cell wall must be extended in a certain direction. This direction-sensitive growth is enabled by the microfibrils in the cell wall, which are wrapped around the cell in a certain direction like a corset.

The position of this 'corset' reflects the underlying pattern of parallel microtubules, rigid thin tubes, which are located on the inside of the and the cell membrane.

Tindemans carried out his research within the NWO programme Computational Life Sciences. He wanted to know how the microtubules in plant cells, which 'crawl' like worms over the inside of the cell membrane, all acquire the same orientation.

Analyses and simulations revealed that the arrangement of microtubules is mainly caused by 'catastrophic collisions'; after such a collision a growing microtubule begins to shrink. Simulations also revealed that the cell could determine the direction of the ‘corset' by means of small localised changes in the characteristics of the microtubules.

Source: NWO

Explore further: Breakthrough in coccidiosis research

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Advance in understanding cellulose synthesis

Jun 14, 2009

Cellulose is a fibrous molecule that makes up plant cell walls, gives plants shape and form and is a target of renewable, plant-based biofuels research. But how it forms, and thus how it can be modified to design energy-rich ...

Scientists unveil mechanism for 'up and down' in plants

Oct 28, 2008

VIB researchers at Ghent University, Belgium, discovered how the transport of an important plant hormone is organized in a way that the plant knows in which direction its roots and leaves have to grow. They discovered how ...

How cells keep in shape

Dec 02, 2007

Cells in our body come in various shapes and sizes. Each cell is shaped in such a way as to optimise it for a specific function. When things go wrong and a cell does not adopt its dedicated shape, its function ...

Biological motors sort molecules one by one on a chip

May 11, 2006

Researchers from Delft University of Technology’s Kavli Institute of Nanoscience have discovered how to use the motors of biological cells in extremely small channels on a chip. Based on this, they built ...

Surprising origin of cell's internal highways

Jun 20, 2007

Scientists have long thought that microtubules, part of the microscopic scaffolding that the cell uses to move things around in order to hold its shape and divide, originated from a tiny structure near the nucleus, called ...

Recommended for you

Breakthrough in coccidiosis research

18 hours ago

Biological researchers at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) are a step closer to finding a new cost-effective vaccine for the intestinal disease, coccidiosis, which can have devastating effects on poultry ...

Vietnam's taste for cat leaves pets in peril

22 hours ago

The enduring popularity of "little tiger" as a snack to accompany a beer in Vietnam means that cat owners live in constant fear of animal snatchers, despite an official ban.

New species of mayfly discovered in India

Jul 28, 2014

Scientists have discovered a new species of mayfly in the southern Western Ghats, a mountain range along the west coast of India. In fact, this is the first time that any mayfly belonging to the genus Labiobaetis has be ...

User comments : 0