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B2: Plasticity of secondary wall patterns in the vasculature of Arabidopsis thaliana

Dr. René Schneider

Institute of Biochemistry and Biology, University of Potsdam, Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 24-25, Haus 20, 14476 Potsdam


Email:               rene.schneideruni-potsdamde



Open positions:

Position CRC1644/B22 – PhD student Schneider group


Project Overview:

We aim to study how the water-conducting xylem of Arabidopsis thaliana adapts to different environmental conditions by examining its sophisticated cell wall patterns. We will use different ecotypes of this species that have evolved in (and thus adapted to) variable climates around the world.

Key Hypotheses:

  1. The patterning of xylem cell walls affects the plant's ability to transport water.
  2. Plants adapted to different climates can adjust their xylem walls differentially in response to changes in water availability.

Research Methods:

  • Leverage the known genetic diversity of Arabidopsis ecotypes to identify genes involved in xylem wall plasticity.
  • Use of high-throughput imaging and automated image analysis to identify high- and low-plasticity ecotypes concerning xylem cell wall changes upon water limitation
  • Employ a robotic phenotyping system to measure seedling growth under various conditions, not limited to water availability.

Role of the PhD Candidate:

  • Create innovative image post-processing tools and analytical methods to quantify high-throughput phenotyping data, supporting quantitative genetics research across the entire CRC 1644.
  • Make the robotics-based imaging platform available to the entire CRC 1644, fostering extensive collaboration on various scientific projects within the CRC.


  • Engage in cutting-edge research with state-of-the-art technology.
  • Contribute to a deeper understanding of plant adaptation and water transport mechanisms.
  • Collaborate with a diverse team of scientists.

This project offers an excellent opportunity to work on pioneering research in plant biology and computational analysis.


Project-related publications

Schneider, R., van’t Klooster, K., Picard, K., van der Gucht, J., Demura, T., Janson M., Sampathkumar, A., Deinum, E.E., Ketelaar, T., Persson, S. (2021). Long-term single cell imaging and simulations of microtubules reveal driving forces for wall pattering during proto-xylem development. Nature Communications, doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-20894-1

Watanabe, Y., Schneider, R., Barkwill, S., Gonzales-Vigil, E., Hill, J.L., Samuels, A.L., Persson, S., Mansfield, S.D. (2018). Cellulose Synthase Complexes Display Distinct Dynamic Behaviors During Xylem Trans-Differentiation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1802113115

Schneider, R., Tang, L., Lampugnani, E.R., Barkwill, S., Lathe, R., Zhang, Y., McFarlane, H.E., Pesquet, E., Niittyla, T., Mansfield, S., Zhou, Y., Persson, S. (2017). Two Complementary Mechanisms Underpin Cell Wall Patterning during Xylem Vessel Development. The Plant Cell, doi: 10.1105/tpc.17.00309