Chalmers Conferences, 9th European Conference on Mathematical and Theoretical Biology

The effect of geometry on morphogenesis in the Arabidopsis embryo
Richard S. Smith, George Bassel, Gabriella Mosca, Pierre Barbier de Reuille, Saiko Yoshida, Dolf Weijers

Last modified: 2014-06-09


Morphogenesis in plants results from the coordinated regulation of cell division and growth. Although much is known about genetic and signaling pathways controlling these processes, less is known about the influence of cellular geometry. To address this gap, we have developed a software called MorphoGraphX ( and have used it to study cell division and expansion in the Arabidopsis embryo. During early embryo development, we find that cells mostly follow a default rule based on geometry. Formative divisions deviate from this rule, suggesting they are targeted specifically by genetic regulatory and signaling pathways. Later in the early stages of seed germination, we find that gene expression does not directly correlate with growth. This leads us to hypothesize that cell expansion patterns depend on both gene expression and geometric factors inherent in the shape of the cells and tissue. To test this hypothesis, we have built a 3D mechanical simulation model of a growing embryo using the finite element method (FEM). We find that growth is highest where genetic and mechanical facilitators converge.