ROOTFLOW: Dynamic cell coordination in the plant root

The coordination of cellular behavior in the plant root is dynamic, poorly understood, and exploited by the root as it responds to environmental stress. The project represents a multi-scale, integrative analysis – relevant throughout biology – that will help improve root traits – essential for tomorrow’s agriculture.

Growing roots will be recorded with confocal fluorescence microscopy and image-analysis methods will be developed to quantify growth at a cellular scale. Cellular growth patterns will be characterized as the root responds to its environment (drought). A computer model will be developed to simulate complex dynamics of cellular behavior during root growth and to support mechanistic hypotheses about the underlying causal behavior. This project leverages CPIB’s multi-disciplinary expertise on roots, image analysis, and modeling. The fellow will engage the public through established outreach events run by CPIB.

Major deliverables will be software for quantifying growth on a cell-by-cell basis, a model for dynamic cell behavior in the root, and a quantitative understanding of cellular dynamics underlying the root’s response to stress. Software will measure growth at higher resolution than previously and will be widely useful, even for animal biologists. Understanding cellular dynamics underlying the root’s response to stress is important biologically and will help agronomists improve crop varieties to better tolerate stress.