An anisotropic-viscoplastic model of plant cell morphogenesis by tip growth

Jacques Dumais, Sidney L. Shaw, Charles R. Steele, Sharon R. Long, Peter M. Ray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

151 Scopus citations


Plant cell morphogenesis depends critically on two processes: the deposition of new wall material at the cell surface and the mechanical deformation of this material by the stresses resulting from the cell's turgor pressure. We developed a model of plant cell morphogenesis that is a first attempt at integrating these two processes. The model is based on the theories of thin shells and anisotropic viscoplasticity. It includes three sets of equations that give the connection between wall stresses, wall strains and cell geometry. We present an algorithm to solve these equations numerically. Application of this simulation approach to the morphogenesis of tip-growing cells illustrates how the viscoplastic properties of the cell wall affect the shape of the cell at steady state. The same simulation approach was also used to reproduce morphogenetic transients such as the initiation of tip growth and other non-steady changes in cell shape. Finally, we show that the mechanical anisotropy built into the model is required to account for observed patterns of wall expansion in plant cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-222
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Developmental Biology
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - 2006


  • Anisotropy
  • Cell morphogenesis
  • Tip growth
  • Viscoplasticity
  • Wall expansion


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