MechE Seminar: Biomechanics of exploding seed pods


Event details

Date 08.02.2023
Hour 09:0010:00
Speaker Dr. Gabriella Mosca, Technical University Munich and Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research
Location Online
Category Conferences - Seminars
Abstract: Popping weed (Cardamine hirsuta) is one of many different plants that evolved an explosive mechanism to efficiently disperse its seeds.
When the fruit is mature, the valves detach from a supporting central structure, coiling at high speed and ejecting the seeds at considerable distance.
To investigate this explosive mechanism, we adopted a multidisciplinary approach, combining genetics, advanced imaging, micro-mechanical manipulations and mechanical modeling across different scales. We discovered that the fruit of Cardamine hirsuta evolved morpho-mechanical features that allowed its valves to behave analogously to an incompressible bi-layer tissue under differential tension, while attached to the rest of the fruit. Through Finite Element Methods (FEM) simulations combined with experimental data, we explained the source and the dynamics of this differential tension, showing how the outer layer of the valve is able to develop contractile tension while growing, behaving ultimately similarly to a McKibben actuator.

Biography: Gabriella Mosca studied Physics at University of Insubria (Italy), where she graduated in 2010 with a thesis on Quantum Chaos and Entanglement. Under the supervision of Dr. Richard Smith in Bern (CH),  within the Swiss initiative SystemsX,  she did an interdisciplinary Ph.D. focused on the development of computational methods to interpret the experimental results of indentation experiments (AFM, CFM) on plant cells in a tissue context.
From that work stemmed the development of MorphoMechanX, a user-friendly and interactive software designed to model plant tissue bio-mechanics and morphogenesis, which Dr. Mosca and collaborating labs are using to explore a variety of questions connected to the role of mechanics in development.
Dr. Mosca is currently a postdoctoral researcher in the PlantMorphodynamics research consortium (TUM-MPIPZ, DE), a multidisciplinary group tacking in a holistic manner the events which, at different scales, underlie tissue morphogenesis.

Practical information

  • General public
  • Free


MechE Seminar: Biomechanics of exploding seed pods