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Andrew Muroyama


The complex and beautiful biological forms that surround us are created by the coordinated actions of individual cells. How this coordination is achieved is one of the central questions in developmental biology. We are interested in understanding the myriad ways that cells encode and propagate spatial information through cell divisions and fate transitions to regulate organogenesis. Specifically, we investigate the evolutionarily divergent ways that cytoskeletal organization, cell polarity, and organelle trafficking pattern plant tissues.

leaf epidermis and stomatal lineage

Left: A view of the leaf epidermis, taken from a plant harboring a plasma-membrane reporter. Decisions made by cells in the stomatal lineage (pseudo-colored) create and position stomata (purple) and pavement cells (puzzle-piece shaped). Right: The stomatal lineage integrates extrinsic signals into intrinsic cellular pathways to flexibly pattern the leaf surface.

As our starting point, we explore how stem cell decisions create the leaf surface. Like much of plant development, leaf patterning relies on strict rules, and, somewhat paradoxically, exhibits extraordinary flexibility and environmental responsiveness. Look at the leaf surface under a microscope, and you will see predominantly two cell types: interdigitated pavement cells and two-cell pores known as stomata. Stomata are an essential interface between the plant and environment that allow gas exchange for photosynthesis and transpiration. By exploring the development of this simplified system, our goal is to understand the mechanisms within stem cells of the young leaf that generate and position these cell types. For our studies, we leverage the optical accessibility of the leaf surface, which permits high-resolution tracking of subcellular dynamics with associated fate transitions and tissue-wide organization. We complement our imaging approaches with molecular genetics and proteomics to determine tissue-specific and universal patterning mechanisms.

We anticipate that our studies will inform agricultural innovations aimed at increasing yields through morphological engineering. Additionally, we believe that identifying orthogonal mechanisms that control common cellular modules may provide new avenues for regenerative medicine.



Andrew Muroyama obtained his Ph.D. in Cell Biology working as an NSF-GRFP fellow with Dr. Terry Lechler at Duke University. He then conducted his postdoctoral work in the lab of Dr. Dominique Bergmann at Stanford University, where he was awarded an NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award. He joined the Division of Biological Sciences faculty at UCSD in 2021.