Plant cells are surrounded by walls, which connect cells to each other and prevent them from moving. Thus, cell shape must emerge from carefully regulated growth of neighbouring cells, which mutually adjust their growth to each other. At the cellular level, growth is driven by turgor pressure generating high forces on the walls. Cell walls need to be rigid to withstand high tensional stress, yet they are also very dynamic and actively communicate with neighbouring cells and the environment. Cell walls are active cell compartments, which continuously modify their properties to enable cell expansion during differentiation and polarized growth. These aspects of cell walls (resistance to turgor pressure and accommodation of growth) are linked to mechanical properties that are likely not evenly distributed along the cell wall.

In our research, we aim to understand the implications of mechanical heterogeneities in plant development. We are a dynamic and interdisciplinary team that likes to combine genetics and developmental biology with quantitative, biophysical and computational approaches.