Ram Dixit’s research examines the biochemical and mechanical stimuli that control the growth and development of plant cells. His work is motivated by the spectacular diversity of cell shapes in nature, which underlies the viability and adaptability of organisms.
In plants, nanoscale protein polymers called microtubules determine cell shape by spatially organizing the rigid cell wall. Dixit is studying how cortical microtubule arrays are created in the absence of a dedicated organizing center like the centrosome of animal cells, and how these arrays orchestrate ordered deposition of cell wall material.
His lab uses a multi-disciplinary and multi-scale approach combining live-imaging, in vitro reconstitution at the single-molecule level, molecular genetics and computational modeling.
Dixit also serves as an investigator for the National Science Foundation-funded collaborative Center for Engineering MechanoBiology and is program director of the Plant and Microbial Biosciences graduate program at Washington University.
Ryan Calcutt and Ram Dixit in Arts & Sciences and their collaborators created the first artificial scaffolds that can support the growth of individual plant cells — a discovery that will make it possible to study how forces such as gravity affect the way that plant cells form and grow.
The Dixit lab at Washington University in St. Louis, which in a study published in 2018 found molecular brakemen that keep the Arabidopsis Fragile Fiber 1 (FRA1) motor protein in check, uncovered in continuing research that FRA1 cinches its track in place through cellulose synthase-microtubule uncoupling proteins.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has added a newly formed collaboration between Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Pennsylvania to its list of Science and Technology Centers (STC). The new center, one of just 12 nationally, will be supported by a $23.6 million NSF grant to study the mechanics of plant and animal cells. This deeper dive into how single cells function could transform both medicine and plant science.
Ram V. Dixit, PhD, assistant professor of biology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, received a five-year, $1,163,940 Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation to study mechanisms underlying plant cell morphogenesis.
Ram Dixit’s lab at Washington University in St. Louis has shown that a protein named after the katana, or samurai sword, plays a crucial role in patterning the “skeleton” inside plant cells. The work provides a clue to the long-standing mystery of how the cytoskeletons within both plant and animal cells become organized in function-specific patterns.