The research in the Oparka lab focuses on plasmodesmata (PD), the small pores that interconnect plant cells. PD are central to plant development, physiology and pathology, and are the conduits for a range of solutes, signalling molecules and selected macromolecules. The lab has ongoing projects in a number of areas related to PD structure and function, with emphasis on the development of novel imaging methods to explore the functions of PD in living tissues. The group also conducts research into the nature of macromolecules that pass between cells via PD, with a focus on the cell-to-cell movement of viral genomes. Additional work explores the use of plant viruses as vehicles for the delivery of foreign proteins into plant cells, and the development of novel fluorescence-based imaging techniques.
Plasmodesmata (PD) on a fractured trichome basal wall, imaged using field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM) and confocal imaging (inset). In the fluorescence image, the PD are highlighted with a movement protein (MP)-GFP fusion.