EVOGENE / CIME Seminar: Enrique Rojas - Comparative Mechanics of Cell Growth and Survival

Enrique Rojas from The Center for Genomics & Systems Biology, Department of Biology, New York University, US, will give the talk entitled "Comparative Mechanics of Cell Growth and Survival".

Abstract: I will discuss the adaptive strategies that diverse microbes, including prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms, use to cope with their mechanical environment and with the mechanical constraints imposed on them by evolution.  First, it is well understood that the peptidoglycan cell wall is an essential mechanical structure for bacteria.  In Gram-negative bacteria, it is widely believed that the outer membrane simply provides an additional permeability barrier.  Conversely, I will show that the outer membrane is at least as stiff as the cell wall and plays a critical role in protecting bacteria from mechanical insults, revising our textbook understanding of bacterial mechanics.  Second, it is well established that fungal and protistan hyphae use turgor pressure to drive cell-wall expansion during cell growth.  I will show how this mechanism, combined with an evolutionary selection for fast growth, provides a tight developmental constraint on the range of possible cell shapes.  Using computational modeling, I will demonstrate that this constraint takes the form of a "tipping-point catastrophe" often seen in dynamical systems theory.  These examples elucidate how the interplay of evolution and physics conspire to determine the ultrastructure and shape of microbial cells.

Read more about the research at The Rojas Lab here (external)

Published Jan. 15, 2019 12:42 PM - Last modified May 24, 2019 1:53 PM