A comparative mechanical analysis of plant and animal cells reveals convergence across kingdoms

Biophys J. 2014 Nov 18;107(10):2237-44. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2014.10.023.


Plant and animals have evolved different strategies for their development. Whether this is linked to major differences in their cell mechanics remains unclear, mainly because measurements on plant and animal cells relied on independent experiments and setups, thus hindering any direct comparison. In this study we used the same micro-rheometer to compare animal and plant single cell rheology. We found that wall-less plant cells exhibit the same weak power law rheology as animal cells, with comparable values of elastic and loss moduli. Remarkably, microtubules primarily contributed to the rheological behavior of wall-less plant cells whereas rheology of animal cells was mainly dependent on the actin network. Thus, plant and animal cells evolved different molecular strategies to reach a comparable cytoplasmic mechanical core, suggesting that evolutionary convergence could include the internal biophysical properties of cells.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arabidopsis / cytology*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cell Line
  • Mechanical Phenomena*
  • Mice
  • Microtubules / metabolism
  • Single-Cell Analysis
  • Species Specificity