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New methods for microtubule mechanics

Trainee Achievements

New methods for microtubule mechanics

IGERT Trainee David Valdman is a fifth year mathematics graduate student. He and his advisor, Prof. Paul Atzberger, have been collaborating with Prof. Megan Valentine (Mechanical Engineering). They have developed new computational methods for the study of microtubule mechanics, based on analysis of fluorescence microscopy images of thermally fluctuating microtubules. To demonstrate their approach in practice, they analyzed an experimental data set to determine the stiffness and persistence length of both bare and MAP-decorated microtubules. The data is obtained with a custom-built total internal reflection fluorescence microscope. The new methods can be used to probe inhomogeneous stinesses that vary spatially along the biopolymer.