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The Benitez-Alfonso Lab - PD Wall Structural Mechanics

The Benitez-Alfonso lab carries out cross-disciplinary research dissecting the structural properties underlying plasmodesmata function and the development of bio-inspired sustainable materials.

Keywords: Plasmodesmata, plant development, cell wall mechanics, cell wall biophysics, intercellular transport, glycans, callose, biomaterials

Plasmodesmata (PD) are membranous channels embedded in plant cell walls that mediate the intercellular transport of both small and relatively large signalling molecules that control development. Callose, a plant beta-1,3-glucan, accumulates around PD which helps regulate transport and plant development (Gaudioso-Pedraza et al., 2018). Callose also interacts with cellulose and has been shown to modify the mechanical properties of cellulosic hydrogels (Abou-Saleh et al., 2018). Other cell wall polymers and modifiers can also accumulate at PD, modifying the PD properties.

We look at understanding the role and regulation of the cell wall in PD function and utilising this knowledge to engineer strategies to improve plant growth and form compostable biomaterials.

The work of the YBA lab is interdisciplinary, falling under one or more of these areas: