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Visualizing actin in tip growing cells

Research Achievements

Visualizing actin in tip growing cells

An interdisciplinary UMass Amherst team led by IGERT Advisor Bezanilla and IGERT Trainee Robert Augustine has demonstrated that a new actin-binding fluorescent probe, Lifeact-mEGFP, effectively labels the actin cytoskeleton in a variety of live plant cells. Results indicate that the most recalcitrant plant cell type for the study of actin, tip growing cells, can be readily imaged with this probe without detriment to cell growth. Until this discovery, no live-cell actin marker has been effective for visualizing actin in tip growing cells. Tip growth is critical for all plants, since it provides increased surface area in root systems for greater plant health and a means of propagating the species. The development of this probe for imaging of actin in live cells will enhance understanding of tip growth with the potential of engineering growth for greater plant fitness or for control of reproduction, for applications in agriculture and energy.