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Understanding morphogenesis and wall mechanics in brown algae

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Brown algae (Phaeophyta, Heterokontophyta) are multicellular photosynthetic organisms which inhabit marine environments. Their cells have a cell wall, a feature that they share with land plants and with green and red macroalgae. Phylogenetic studies have shown that the history of the brown algal species is not related to these other plant groups, and that heterokont multicellularity developed independently from the other multicellular lineages. However, besides basic studies on the cell polarity and development, little is known about their development and growth. The aim of this project is to reveal the underlying physio-chemical mechanisms governing growth in brown algae. The goals are to describe in detail the development of these algae at two selected developmental stages (zygote and apex), characterize cell wall mechanics and biochemistry during morphogenesis, work towards understanding the role of auxin in the patterning, and investigate the effect of a changed environment on their growth and cell wall mechanics. The experiments will involve characterizing the growth of the specimens using light and confocal microscopy, determining the cell wall polysaccharide components through immunolocalization and biochemical analyses, quantifying cell wall mechanics using atomic force microscopy (AFM), and identifying and manipulating genes of interest using RNAseq and RNAi. The zygote work will be carried out in Fucus sp. The apical patterning work will be comparative between three species with different apical patterns: Fucus (dichotomous branching), Sargasum (spiral organ placement), and Halidrys (alternate organ placement).

This talk is part of the Plant Sciences Departmental Seminars series.

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