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Quantification of cellular penetrative forces using lab-on-a-chip technology and finite element modeling.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2013-05-01)
Amir Sanati Nezhad, Mahsa Naghavi, Muthukumaran Packirisamy, Rama Bhat, Anja Geitmann
ABSTRACT

Tip-growing cells have the unique property of invading living tissues and abiotic growth matrices. To do so, they exert significant penetrative forces. In plant and fungal cells, these forces are generated by the hydrostatic turgor pressure. Using the TipChip, a microfluidic lab-on-a-chip device developed for tip-growing cells, we tested the ability to exert penetrative forces generated in pollen tubes, the fastest-growing plant cells. The tubes were guided to grow through microscopic gaps made of elastic polydimethylsiloxane material. Based on the deformation of the gaps, the force exerted by the elongating tubes to permit passage was determined using finite element methods. The data revealed that increasing mechanical impedance was met by the pollen tubes through modulation of the cell wall compliance and, thus, a change in the force acting on the obstacle. Tubes that successfully passed a narrow gap frequently burst, raising questions about the sperm discharge mechanism in the flowering plants.

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