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Plasmodesmata mediated intercellular communication

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Group leader: Emmanuelle Bayer, Research Director CNRS

Phone : 00 33 5 57 12 25 39
E-mail : emmanuelle.bayer@u-bordeaux.fr

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Emmanuelle Bayer obtained her PhD thesis in 2005 (A. Maule; John Innes Centre U.K.), where she had worked on the plant-specific plasmodesmata intercellular channels. After a post doc in Switzerland where she worked on auxin polarised transport at the shoot apical meristem (2006-2009; C Kuhlemeier, Institute of Plant Science Switzerland). She obtained a permanent position at the CNRS in 2010 as junior research scientist and since 2015 she established her own group as Research Director and obtain an ERC funding for her project "BRIDGING". She was awarded bronze medal of the CNRS for her work and since January 2019 E. Bayer has joined the EMBO-young investigator program


Membres du groupe : E. Bayer (CR), M. Brault (IE ANR), M. Grison (AI), J. Petit (PhD), F. Immel (IR), M. Glavier (IR), P. Lee (PhD).

Plasmodesmata membrane-lined channels are of critical importance for the cohesive and collective organisation of plant multicellularity and as such essential for plant life. By establishing cytosolic continuity, plasmodesmata allow the dynamic and reciprocal exchange of information between cells, such as small RNA, transcription factor, hormones and metabolites. They are also targets for viruses that exploit them to spread throughout the plant.
Plasmodesmata are structurally unique : they consist of a strand of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) running through the pore, tethered extremely tightly ( 10 nm) to the plasma membrane (PM) by unidentified “spokes”. This classifies plasmodesmata as a specialised type of membrane contact site, where both the ER and the PM display extreme, and opposing membrane curvature. Specialisation of both the ER and PM lining plasmodesmata channels guarantees plasmodesmata unique function.

Plasmodesmata channels establish direct cytoplasmic and membrane (ER and PM) continuity between cells. Tilsner et al. 2015

The aim of our group is to understand what makes plasmodesmata unique with regards to their membrane organisation. We want to answer questions such as :

1) What is the role of ER-PM tethering with plasmodesmata and how this impact on plasmodesmata function ?
2) How are plasmodesmata organised within the narrow space between the ER and the PM (which can be as small as 20 nm !) ? Are these junctions plastic and how is this related to cell-to-cell connectivity ?
3) What are the molecular mechanisms underlying plasmodesmata specialised membrane arrangement and membrane remodelling events?
4) What role lipis play in organising plasmodesmata specialised membrane domains ?

To address these questions, we are using multidisciplinary approaches from lipidomic/proteomic analyses of purified plasmodesmata, super-high resolution microscopy (electron tomography) to get access to plasmodesmata 3D architecture as well as more classical cell biology and plant genetics.

Sterols modulate cell to cell connectivity at plasmodesmata - Grison et al. Plant Cell 2015.

Plasmodesmata 3D architecture revealed by electron tomography (Nicolas et al. 2017) within plasmodesmata, the endoplasmic reticulum is furled into a rod and tethered to the plasma membrane.

Access to plasmodesmata structure by electron tomography in arabidopsis

Selected publications:

  • W. J. Nicolas, M. S. Grison, S. Trépout, A. Gaston, M. Fouché, F. P. Cordelières, K. Oparka, J. Tilsner, L. Brocard, and E. M. Bayer (2017). Post-cytokinesis plasmodesmata with no cytoplasmic sleeve are open for macromolecule trafficking Accepted in Nature Plants
  • Tilsner J, Nicolas W. Rosado A and Bayer E.M. (2016) Staying tight : plasmodesmal membrane contact sites and the control of cell-to-cell connectivity in plants. Annual Review of Plant Biology 67:23.1-23.28.
  • Grison MS, Brocard L, Fouillen L, Nicolas W, Wewer V , Dörmann P, Nacir H, Benitez-Alfonso Y, Claverol S, Germain V, Boutté Y, Mongrand S and Bayer EM (2015). Specific membrane lipid composition is important for plasmodesmata function. The plant Cell 27(4):1228-50.
  • Grison MS, Calvino-Fernandez L, Mongrand S, Bayer EM (2015). Isolation of Plasmodesmata from Arabidopsis Suspension Cell Culture for Lipidomic and Proteomic Analyses. Methods in Molecular Biology. (1217):83-93.
  • Bayer EM, Mongrand S, Tilsner J. (2014). Specialized membrane domains of plasmodesmata, plant intercellular nanopores. Frontiers in Plant Science doi: 10.3389/fpls.2014.00507. Editor review article.


Jens Tilsner, School of Biology, University of Saint Andrews, U.K.
Yvon Jaillais, ENS/CNRS, Lyon, France.
Yrjö Helariutta, Sainsbury Laboratory, Cambridge, U.K.
Abel Rosado, University of British Columbia, Canada.
Laurence Lins, Biophysique moleculaire aux interfaces, University of Liège, Belgium.
Vikram Alva, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Germany

Lysiane Brocard, Bordeaux Imaging Centre, Bordeaux, France.
Sylvie German-Retana, National Agricultural Research Institute, University of Bordeaux, France

Former members:
W. Nicolas (PhD)
A. Gaston (Post-doc ANR)
M. Fouché (IE ANR)