Shifting Shape with Cell Walls: Imaging the Dynamics of Guard Cell Movement
Water loss from plants is regulated by specialised guard cells on the leaf surface undergoing controlled shape change, creating pores by which gas enters and leaves the plant. We are interested in understanding how the mechanical properties of the walls regulate the dynamic properties of these cells. In this project you will use advanced imaging technology, including light sheet microscopy, to quantify changes in guard cell shape in real time, comparing shape change dynamics in a range of Arabidopsis cell wall mutants which show altered water loss. By integrating these data with knowledge of cell wall structure/function, you will contribute to the generation of mechanical models of stomatal function. Using this knowledge, is it possible to engineer guard cell walls to improve plant performance under future climate conditions of elevated carbon dioxide and restricted water availability?
The ideal candidate will have a background in biology and imaging, preferably combined with an interest in plant mechanics and modelling. The successful candidate will join an integrated group working on various aspects of leaf structure/function with a supervisory team consisting of Andrew Fleming, Julie Gray and Rhoda Hawkins.