Bryophyte mechanics

Image credit: Kira Schwarz

Plants cells are surrounded by a rigid wall of polysacchararide polymers. The high pressure from water inside the cell and the cell wall give shape and strength to plant tissue.

Plant cells frequently change shape, either by cell elongation involving remodelling of the cell wall, or by collapsing when cells dehydrate. This ongoing project investigates how mechanical forces and cell walls change when plants experience water-related shape changes.

The focus here is on bryophytes, such as the moss Physcomitrella patens and the liverwort Marchantia polymorpha. These species have a relatively simple tissue structure and are thought to be similar to the first plants to transition from water to land. We are investigating how plants could survive on land with changing water levels, and how the structural integrity of cells is maintained.

Madeleine Seale
Leverhulme Early Career Fellow