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Sainsbury Laboratory

Research Interests

Intercellular variability and interplant variability 

Individuals with the same genotypic background growing in a similar environment can exhibit surprisingly high-levels of gene expression differences, which is known as variability. Non-genetic variability remains largely unexplored in multicellular organisms. Recently, our lab quantified levels of between-plant variability in gene expression by performing RNA-seq on 14 individual Arabidopsis plants. To understand how variable expression is being coordinated between the cellular and whole organism levels, I am examining cellular expression of highly variable stress responsive genes in Arabidopsis. My work will allow for the first time a mapping between gene expression variability at the level of the organism and at the single cell level.

Confocal image of HSP70 gene expression at single cell level in Arabidopsis root. The color-coded segmentation profile shows the intensity of expression varies between cells.


Stress and Variability

I am interested in studying the survival strategies of plants under stressful environments at the single-cell level specifically to temperature and drought stress, which are particularly pertinent to the climate crisis. I want to examine how survival might be linked with variability. Preliminary data from the Locke-lab shows high levels of variability in abiotic stress response gene expression at the inter-plant level. I am studying the inter-cellular gene expression variability when stress is introduced and how this in-turn affects plant survival.

Dissecting the effect of environmental stress on the intercellular and inter-individual variability in Arabidopsis.


Previous work 

Plant Nuclear Mechanics

Plants can use physical properties as instructive signals. In my PhD project, I uncovered important roles of nuclear morpho-mechanics in the regulation of gene expression during stress-response. Using hyperosmotic stress to impose hydrostatic force on root meristem nuclei, I showed for the first time that nuclear morphology and stiffness is sensitive to the plant’s environment and is regulated by gel-like chromatin (Goswami et al., 2020 Curr. Bio.). My work was featured in Plantae Plant Science Research Weekly.



Key Publications

Goswami R, Asnacios A, Milani P, Graindorge S, Houlné G, Mutterer J, Hamant O, Chabouté M-E (2020) Mechanical Shielding in Plant Nuclei. Current Biology 30:2013-2025.e3.

Goswami R, Asnacios A, Hamant O and Chabouté ME (2020) Is the plant nucleus a mechanical rheostat? Current Opinion in Plant Biology 2020, 57:155–163. 


Research Associate
Dr Rituparna  Goswami

Contact Details

Sainsbury Laboratory
University of Cambridge
47 Bateman Street
Cambridge CB2 1LR