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Dr Pauline Durand

Dr Pauline Durand

Research Associate

Sainsbury Laboratory
University of Cambridge
47 Bateman Street

Cambridge CB2 1LR

Research Interests

My research interests focus on mechanics with application to biological systems and cell mechanics. My approach combines experiments with micromanipulation of single cells and microscopy, set-up designing for quantitative measurements, data analysis and mechanical modeling relying on my background in mechanics and biophysics.

My PhD at Université Denis Diderot (Paris VII) focused on plant and animal single cell rheology. I compared quantitatively wall-less plant cell (protoplast) and animal cell rheology. For the first time, this work showed that, beyond their differences, plant and animal cells share common cytoplasmic mechanical properties, albeit relying on different cytoskeletal elements. My PhD work also showed that plant cell rheology is pressure-dominated and we quantified for the first time the regulation function of turgor pressure at the scale of a single plant cell.

I joined Elliot Meyerowitz's team at Caltech in 2014 where my post-doctoral research focused principally on developing a new device to quantify the influence of geometry on the organisation and dynamics of the plant cytoskeleton. During the course of this project we also discovered that plant tissues transiently increase their cytoplasmic calcium levels in response to mechanical stress. I have developed a device in order to quantitavely characterise this response in tissues and in single cells.

I am now continuing these projects at the Sainsbury Laboratory in Henrik Jonsson’s team where I plan to perform more experiments and develop mechanical model and numerical simulations on cytoskeleton organisation.

Key Publications

Robinson, S. and Durand-Smet, P. (2020) Combining tensile testing and microscopy to address a diverse range of questions. Journal of Microscopy. doi:10.1111/jmi.12863

Wu P. H., Raz-Ben Aroush D., Asnacios A., Chen W. C., Dokukin M. E., Doss B. L., Durand-Smet P., Ekpenyong A., Guck J., Guz N. V, Janmey P. A., Lee J. S.H., Moore N. M., Ott A., Poh Y. C., Ros R., Sander M., Sokolov I., Staunton J. R., Wang N., Whyte G., and Wirtz D., A comparison of methods to assess cell mechanical properties, Nature Methods , 15, pages 491–498, Jun. 2018.

Durand-Smet P., Gauquelin E., Chastrette N., Boudaoud A., Asnacios A., Estimation of turgor pressure through comparison between single plant cell and pressurized shell mechanics, Physical Biology, 14, pages 055002, Aug. 2017.

Durand-Smet P., Chastrette N., Guiroy A., Richert A., Berne-Dedieu A., Szecsi J., Boudaoud A., Frachisse J.-M., Bendhamane M., Hamant O., and Asnacios A., A Comparative Mechanical Analysis
of Plant and Animal Cells Reveals Convergence across Kingdoms
, Biophys. J., 107, pages 2237–2244, Nov. 2014.

Li T., Yan A., Bhatia N., Altinok A., Afik E., Durand-Smet P., Tarr P. T., Schroeder J. I., Heisler, M., Meyerowitz E. M., Calcium signals are necessary to establish auxin transporter polarity in the plant stem-cell-niche, Nature Communication, 2019.

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Plant protoplasts expressing different cytoskeletal reporters confined into micro-wells of different geometries. ©Pauline Durand