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“From polymer to polygon – how plant cells make shapes’” - Anja Geitmann

Friday, April 20, 2018 at 12:20pm

Plant Science Building, 404

Anja Geitmann
Professor and Dean, Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, McGill University, Canada
Associate Vice-Principal (Macdonald Campus)
Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in Biomechanics of Plant Development

Abstract: Plant cell shape is governed by the mechanical properties of the cell wall and is intimately related to the specific function of the cell. Pavement cells covering the surface of plant leaves form wavy interlocking patterns in eudicotyledons. We use computational mechanics to simulate the shape formation based on experimentally assessed shape, growth and cell wall chemistry. The simulations suggest a multi-step process underlying the morphogenesis of pavement cells

Short Bio: Anja Geitmann obtained her PhD in 1997 from the University of Siena (Italy), following undergraduate and graduate studies at the University of Constance (Germany), Oregon State University (USA), and Stockholm University (Sweden). Between 1997 and 2001 she performed postdoctoral research at the Université Laval, Québec, and at the University of Wageningen, The Netherlands. From 2001 to 2015 she was Professor at the Department of Biological Sciences of the Université de Montréal and Scientist at the Institut de recherche en biologie végétale. In 2015 she joined McGill University as Professor in the Department of Plant Science, Dean at the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and Associate Vice-Principal of Macdonald Campus. She currently serves as President of the Canadian Society of Plant Biologists and as Past-President of the Microscopical Society of Canada. She is the Vice-President of the International Association of Plant Sexual Reproduction Research and she serves on the editorial boards of multiple scientific journals including Plant Physiology.

Awards and Recognitions:
Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes - Alumna
Microscopical Society of Canada - President (2013-15)
Canadian Society of Plant Biologists - Education Director (2003-2005 & 2009-2013)
Canadian Foundation for the Development of Microscopy - Member of Board of Trustees (2008-2013)

Active Affiliations:
Board of Directors - Plant Canada (2013-17)
Vice-President - International Association of Sexual Plant Reproduction Research (IASPRR) (2014-18)
Editorial Boards of: Plant Physiology, Journal of Integrative Plant Biology, BMC Plant Biology, Frontiers in Plant Cell Biology

Research Interests: Crop yield is directly related to the speed of plant growth, the final size and shape of the harvested organ, and the reproductive success leading to seed set and fruit formation. The formation of leaves, shoots, roots and fruits is the result of concerted cellular activities: cell division and cell growth. The Geitmann Lab studies how these fundamental processes function at subcellular level with the aim to understand how the genetic composition of an organism translates into its characteristic shape, form and functionality.

Current Research

Biomechanics of Plant Development: Plant growth requires the morphogenesis of organs and functional tissues. Dr. Geitmann studies the mechanical and cell biological underpinnings of these processes focusing on cellular growth and cell division. She focuses on the cytoskeletal control of cell wall assembly and cellular expansion.

Plant Reproduction: Seed set and fruit formation requires the delivery of sperm cells via the pollen tube, the catherlike extension of the pollen grain. Using sophisticated microfluidic devices Dr. Geitmann studies how the pollen tube invades the pistillar tissues and reaches its target.

Biomechanical Modeling: Using mathematical modeling and computational simulation, the mechanics of plant cell growth processes, the regulation of cell wall mechanics and the dynamics of intracellular movement.

Live Cell and Ultrastructural Imaging: Cellular processes are studied using confocal laser scanning microscopy for visualization of dynamic processes and scanning electron and transmission electron microscopy for ultrastructural detail.

For current research, please visit the lab website.


View a list of current publications

ResearchGate publication link


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Plant Biology, Sustainability


nysaes, CALScomm, plant biology, sips




Contact E-Mail

Contact Name

Tara Reed

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Anja Geitmann

Speaker Affiliation

McGill University

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