Ram Dixit is a Professor of Biology at Washington University in St. Louis and Associate Director of Education for the Center for Engineering MechanoBiology.
Dixit’s research seeks to understand the interplay between biochemical and mechanical stimuli that control the growth and morphology of plant cells. In plants, the noncentrosomal cortical microtubule cytoskeleton determines cell shape by spatially organizing the rigid cell wall which specifies the direction of turgor-driven cell expansion. Anisotropic expansion in turn feeds back to alter cortical microtubule organization. The Dixit lab wants to elucidate the molecular mechanisms that generate and dynamically modify the organization of the cortical microtubules during plant growth and development. We are also interested in understanding how the cortical microtubule array guides the ordered deposition of cell wall constituents to affect the structure and mechanics of the cell wall. The lab uses a multi-disciplinary and multi-scale approach combining live-imaging, in vitro reconstitution at the single-molecule level, molecular genetics and computational modeling.
Keywords: plant cell morphogenesis; cortical microtubule cytoskeleton; plant cell wall; mechanobiology; microtubule plus-end and minus-end targeting proteins; microtubule severing; microtubule bundling; microtubule self-organization; kinesins
Working Group(s): Working Group 1: How do cells sense their mechanical environment?; Working Group 2: How do cells adapt to and change their mechanical environment?; Working Group 3: How do cells remember their mechanical environment?; Working Group 4: Crosscutting and Emerging Technologies