Welcome to the Bezanilla Lab

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

Click here to view all of Magdalena’s iBiology talks.
Many more fascinating biology videos are available at

Bezanilla Lab News

Congratulations to Shu-Zon for her JCB paper that was just recognized by the F1000.

Access the recommendation on F1000Prime Wu SZ and Bezanilla M. (2018)
Actin microtubule cross talk mediates tip growth. Journal of Cell Biology, published online July 30th

August 10th, 2018

Good luck CJ! CJ just moved to the University of California-San Diego to begin his Postdoc in the Estelle Lab.

July 30th, 2018

Congratulations to CJ Bascom on a successful PhD defense!

May 5th, 2018