The Bezanilla Lab at Dartmouth
The major focus of our research is to understand how plant cells grow. We use the moss Physcomitrella patens as a model system and we employ many different tools, ranging from imaging to molecular engineering to get at this question.
How plant cells grow, one of the most fundamental aspects of plant biology, remains an open question. Our research focuses on understanding how proteins within the cell direct and regulate plant cell growth and morphogenesis. We are particularly interested in the role of regulators of the filamentous actin cytoskeletal network and have pioneered the use of the moss Physcomitrella patens to show that regulators of actin dynamics are critical for proper cell growth.
Among plants, moss has exceptionally rapid transgenic capabilities and is the only known land plant that undergoes efficient homologous recombination. My lab has developed additional tools, such as RNA interference (RNAi), quantitative complementation analyses, and rapid quantitative growth assays, which will enable a molecular characterization of plant cell growth.
The ultimate goal of our research is to use directed and undirected approaches to uncover the molecular basis of cell growth. As a basic understanding emerges from these functional genomic studies, it may be possible to manipulate attributes of other plants. For example, gene discovery for increased plant biomass may support new and innovative renewable energy sources.
Recent studies in the lab have lead to a working model for how tip growth in moss cells is controlled at the molecular level. We hypothesize that actin dynamics are required to establish and maintain an apical cortical F-actin structure that is required for transport of exoctyic vesicles delivering new growth material to the apex of the cell.
Magdalena Bezanilla’s iBiology Video
Bezanilla Lab News
Congratulations to CJ Bascom on a successful PhD defense!
He will be moving to University of California-San Diego in August to begin his Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Estelle Lab.
— May 5th, 2018