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Title: The role of brown algal cell walls in morphogenesis and development
Author: Linardic, Marina
ISNI:       0000 0004 7228 5623
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2018
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Morphogenesis in walled organisms represents a highly controlled process by which the variability of shapes arises through changes in the structure and mechanics of the cell wall. Despite taking different evolutionary paths, land plants and some brown algae exhibit great developmental and morphological similarities. In two brown algal model systems: the Sargassum muticum apex and the Fucus serratus embryo, I have used a combination of imaging techniques, growth analyses, surgical and pharmacological treatments, as well as molecular, biochemical and mechanical approaches to characterise the growth patterns and the cell wall contribution to shape change. To understand how the adult algal body is formed, I examined the branching strategy (phyllotaxis) in S. muticum. My results suggest that in S. muticum the spiral phyllotactic pattern and the apical cell division pattern are not linked. The phytohormone auxin and the biochemical changes of the cell wall do not seem to be correlated with the bud outgrowth, contrary to observations in plants. In summary, these results suggest Sargassum convergently developed a distinct growth mechanism with similar shape outcome as observed in plants. This dissertation is one of the first attempts to explore cell wall mechanics in brown algal development and its correlation with underlying cell wall biochemistry utilising the Fucus embryo as a known system. The results suggest a correlation between the wall mechanics and alginate biochemistry with the growing and non-growing regions of the embryo. In addition, altering cell wall deposition or composition has a strong effect on embryo rhizoid elongation and is, in certain cases, accompanied by significant increase in cell wall stiffness and reduction of alginate epitopes. Furthermore, preliminary results exploring transcriptomic changes during development indicate differential expression of particular alginate biosynthesis enzymes (mannuronan C5 epimerases) during development, suggesting alginate conformational modifications might be stage specific. These results contribute to the current knowledge addressing the importance of cell walls in brown algal development using novel tools and approaches. Understanding developmental processes in brown algae will provide a better insight how similar morphogenetic traits are established using different body-building mechanisms.
Supervisor: Braybrook, Siobhan Ariel Sponsor: University of Cambridge
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: brown algae ; cell wall ; morphogenesis ; embryogenesis ; phyllotaxis