Anja Geitmann - Canada Research Chair in Biomechanics of Plant Development

Department of Plant Science, McGill University

The images shown in the header strip are micrographs produced by Colas Topszynski, Youssef Chebli & Amir Jafari Bidhendi. All imagess are copyright protected and their use requires permission by Anja Geitmann

Recent Publications

Click here for a complete list of publications.

To obtain pdf copies of any of the publications either follow the indicated links or contact Dr. Geitmann.

Pectin chemistry and cellulose crystallinity govern pavement cell morphogenesis in a multi-step mechanism

Altartouri B, Bidhendi AJ, Tani T, Conrad C, Chebli Y, Liu N, Karunakaran C, Scarcelli G, Geitmann A (2019) Plant Physiolgoy 181: 127-141

Using polarized fluorescence microscopy combined with confocal laser scanning microscopy we reveal the spatio-temporal dynamics of cell wall polymers and microtubules associated with the morphogenetic process in the leaf epidermis. Brillouin microscopy is employed to demonstrate the effect on cell wall mechanical behavior.

See also commentary by Sidney L. Shaw.

Mechanical stress initiates and sustains the morphogenesis of wavy leaf epidermal cells

Bidhendi AJ, Altartouri B, Gosselin FP, Geitmann A (2019) Cell Reports 28: 1237-1250

The shaping of plant cells during differentiation is governed by the primary cell wall whose properties in turn are regulated by cytoskeletal dynamics. We used finite element modelling to identify the biomechanical principles underlying the morphogenesis of intricate shapes such as those in the leaf epidermis.

Plant biomechanics - Force, form and function

Geitmann A (editor) 2019. Journal of Experimental Botany, Vol 70, Issue 14. Special issue

This special issue on plant biomechanics arises from the 9th International Plant Biomechanics Conference held in Montreal, August 2018. The 16 articles exemplify the state-of-the-art of the field and are accompanied by an editorial.

Plant biomechanics in the 21st century

Geitmann A, Niklas K, Speck T (2019) Journal of Experimental Botany 70: 3435-3438

This editorial introduces the history of plant biomechanics research, elaborates on the series of international conferences on the topic, delivers a tribute to late Professor Hanns-Christof Spatz, and summarizes the 16 articles in the special issue of the Journal of Experimental Botany.

Methods to quantify primary plant cell wall mechanics

Bidhendi AJ, Geitmann A (2019) Journal of Experimental Botany 70: 3615–3648

There are many ways to measure the mechanical properties of the primary plant cell wall, and how these numbers are interpreted needs to consider the caveats of each method. This review contains a glossary of plant biomechanics terms and a catalog of all the numbers for primary wall mechanics we were able to find in the literature.

Geometrical details matter for mechanical modeling of cell morphogenesis

Bidhendi AJ, Geitmann A. 2019. Developmental Cell 50: 117-125

Modeling biological processes is challenging and requires careful consideration of input parameters and assumptions. Here we show that modeling the morphogenesis of leaf epidermal cells needs to be done by considering the complete 3D geometry of the cell to account for relevant forces driving cell growth.

Plant AP180 N-Terminal Homolog (ANTH) proteins are involved in clathrin-dependent endocytosis during pollen tube growth in Arabidopsis thaliana

Kaneda M, Triplet van Oostende C, Chebli Y, Testerink C, Bednarek SY, Geitmann A. 2019. Plant and Cell Physiology 6: 1316–1330

Polarized cell growth in plants is maintained under the strict control and exquisitely choregraphed balance of exocytic and endocytic membrane trafficking. This paper investigates clathrin mediated endocytosis, cell wall assembly and morphogenesis in growing pollen tubes.

Plant biomechanics - from structure to function at multiple scales

Geitmann A, Gril J. 2018. Springer Verlag, 435 pp

This book provides a cross-section of the interdisciplinary field of plant biomechanics. The 19 chapters are written by a total of 40 authors and reflect the state-of-the-art of the discipline.

Measuring the growth force of invasive cells using Flexure Integrated Lab-on-a-Chip (FILoC)

Growing pollen tubes have the capacity to invade and overcome the mechanical resistance of the pistillar tissues. We measured the force of single growing pollen tubes and assessed how physical contact with an obstacle alters the growth behavior.

Bracing for abscission

Geitmann A. 2018. Cell 173: 1320-1322

Shedding of organs requires the orchestration of multiple cellular activities that ensure the separation and detachment of the organ as well as the protection of the fracture plane. This preview highlights a recent study that investigates the role of lignin deposition in the process.

Tensile testing of primary plant cells and tissues

Bidhendi AJ, Geitmann A. 2018. In: Plant Biomechanics - From Structure to Function at Multiple Scales. Geitmann A, Gril J (eds), Springer Verlag, pp 321-347

The predominant mechanical role of the primary cell wall lies in its ability to resist or conform to tensile forces. Assessing the tensile properties of the cell wall, therefore, is a fundamental feature from both biomechanics and mechanobiology perspectives. Here, we discuss tensile testing strategies for plant samples with primary cell walls.

Cell mechanics of pollen tube growth

Cameron C, Geitmann A. 2018. Current Opinion in Genetics & Development 51: 11-17

Through the recent advent of new technology and computational methods researchers have been able to study particular phenomena characterizing pollen tube growth such as oscillatory growth, invasive growth, and directional control.

Finite element modeling of shape changes in plant cells

Bidhendi AJ, Geitmann A. 2018. Plant Physiology 176: 41-56

Finite element modeling is an engineering tool that when applied to cell biology can be powerful. We critically assess the potential and the caveats of this approach.

A mechanosensitive Ca2+-channel activity is dependent on the developmental regulator DEK1

Tran D, Galletti R, Neumann ED, Dubois A, Sharif-Naeini R, Geitmann A, Frachisse J-M, Hamant O, Ingram GC. 2017. Nature Communications 8:1009

The Arabidopsis Defective Kernel 1 (DEK1) protein is essential for plant development beyond early embryogenesis. It is associated with a mechanically activated Ca2+ current suggesting that perception of mechanical stress plays a critical role in plant development.

Depletion of the mitotic kinase Cdc5p in Candida albicans results in the formation of elongated buds that switch to the hyphal fate over time in a Ume6p and Hgc1p-dependent manner

Glory A, Triplet-van Oostende C, Geitmann A, Bachewich C. 2017. Fungal Genetics & Biology 107:51-66

The fungal pathogen Candida albicans differentiates between yeast, hyphae and pseudohyphae in order to enhance survival in the human host and virulence. In order to clarify the nature of these growth forms, aspects of the polar growth machinery were investigated.

Vesicle dynamics during plant cytokinesis reveals distinct developmental phases

Triplet van Oostende C, Guillet D, Triplet T, Pandzic E, Wiseman PW, Geitmann A. 2017. Plant Physiology 174: 1544–1558

Exquisitely choreographed transport of vesicles is necessary to form the new cell plate separating daughter cells during mitosis. 4D confocal microscopy and spatio-temporal image correlation spectroscopy revealed distinct functional phases during cell plate formation - testimony to a highly optimized mechanism.

The middle lamella - more than a glue

Zamil MS, Geitmann A. 2017. Physical Biology 14, 015004

The middle lamella glues plant cells together to form a tissue, but it has its own, distinct material properties. We only know rather little about this material and its mechanical properties. What we do know is summarized here.

Cellular growth in plants requires regulation of cell wall biochemistry

Chebli Y, Geitmann A. 2017. Current Opinion in Cell Biology 44: 28-35

Cell and organ morphogenesis in plants are regulated by the chemical structure and mechanical properties of the extracellular matrix, the cell wall. How the remodelling of this material is regulated to generate the morphological changes required during plant development is explored.

Microfluidics and MEMS (microelectromechanical systems)-based platforms for experimental analysis of pollen tube growth behavior and quantification of cell mechanical properties

Geitmann A. 2017. In: Obermeyer G, Feijó J (eds) Pollen Tube Tip Growth: From Biophysical Aspects to Systems Biology. Springer Verlag, pp 87-103

Microfluidic technology can be used for the micromanipulation of single cells. Clever engineering has allowed for the measurement of single cell forces and the quantitative determination of biomechanical parameters. How these techniques have been exploited to study growing pollen tubes is summarized in this chapter.

Control of cellular morphogenesis through intracellular trafficking

Rakusova H, Geitmann A. 2017. In: Obermeyer G, Feijó J (eds) Pollen Tube Tip Growth: From Biophysical Aspects to Systems Biology. Springer Verlag, pp 129-148

The pollen tube accomplishes invasive and directed behavior by manipulating the force and orientation of its cellular expansive growth. This in turn necessitates the orchestration ofits intracellular transport and secretory machinery. The molecular regulatory mechanisms involved in these processes are summarized in this contribution.

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Actuators acting without actin

Geitmann A. 2016. Cell 166:15-17

How do plant organs effect movement? Very differently from animal organs, that is for sure! Rather than employing actin-based contraction, movement in plant organs relies on water flux between cells or tissues, within cellular cytoplasm or cell wall. Understanding the mechanics requires quantitative experimentation and mechanical modeling at multiple scales. This Preview introduces an intriguing paper on the explosive seed dispersal by Hofhuis et al.

Influence of electric fields and conductivity on pollen tube growth assessed via Electrical Lab-on-Chip

Agudelo CG, Packirisamy M, Geitmann A. 2016. Scientific Reports 6:19812

Elongating pollen tubes respond to the presence of electric fields. We designed a highly reproducible experimental setup based on Lab-on-Chip technology that allows researchers to assess the effect of electric field strengths and AC frequencies on single cells. Medium conductivity was found to be an important parameter determining the response of cells to the electric field.

Relating the mechanics of the primary plant cell wall to morphogenesis

Bidhendi AJ, Geitmann A. 2016. Journal of Experimental Botany 67: 449-461

Regulation of the mechanical properties of the cell wall is a key parameter used by plants to control the growth behavior of individual cells and tissues. This review covers the major cell wall polysaccharides and their implication for plant cell wall mechanics.

Navigating the plant cell: Intracellular transport logistics in the green kingdom.

Geitmann A, Nebenführ A. 2015. Molecular Biology of the Cell, 26 (19): 3373-3378

All eukaryotic cells have to shuttle material between different compartments or between different subcellular regions. The logistics of actin and microtubule-mediated intracellular transport in plant cells is discussed.

Live cell and immuno-labeling techniques to study gravitational effects on single plant cells

Chebli Y, Geitmann A. 2015. In: Blancaflor E (ed) "Plant Gravitropism", Series "Methods in Molecular Biology", Humana Press, pp. 209-226

Administering fluorescence label to single plant cells cultivated under micro- or hyper-gravity conditions requires specialized handling. This chapter provides detailed protocols and techniques.

Tip growth in walled cells: Cellular expansion and invasion mechanisms

Sanati Nezhad A, Geitmann A. 2015. In: Cuerrier C, Pelling A (eds) Cells, Forces and the Microenvironment, CRC Press pp. 335-355

Plant cell morphogenesis is a process governed by a set of mechanical principles which determine how and into what shape the cell grows or how it deals with mechanical obstacles. In this review the individual concepts and vocabulary of plant cell growth in general and invasive growth in particular are explained.

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For a complete list including pre-2015 publications click here.