CABDyN Project Profiles

    Mark Fricker
   University Lecturer in Plant Science and Tutorial Fellow
   Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford
   Academic Director, Pembroke College, University of Oxford

Mark Frickerís research area is imaging signalling and transport in intact
plant and fungal systems operating in their correct tissue context. The
interest in complexity has arisen in two areas. First, in trying to
understand the network of interactions that underpin stomatal responses, one
of the archetypal plant signalling system. Second, in mapping the fluxes of
nutrients and control over their distribution in the physical network of
foraging fungal mycelia. In the latter case, we have developed a new
technique to continuously image transport of radiolabelled compounds using
photon counting scintillation imaging. This provides time-lapse images of
nutrient fluxes and has revealed rapid, pulsatile movements that may be
organised in distinct domains within the network or even switch between
different transport routes.

The fungal mycelium provides a unique opportunity to study network
architecture and how it develops in response to varying stimuli as the
entire system is visible. There is also a long history of development of
algorithms simulating branching systems based on mycelial systems. The new
imaging and analysis techniques developed provide an opportunity to assess
the functional transport capabilities of the network rather than just its
topology. Already results suggest resources and information flows are
concentrated in a sub-set of the total available morphological network. The
close convergence of physical and functional simulations with experimental
data suggest that this system may be ideally suited as a model system to
extract critical features that underpin robust biological networks.

Further details can be found at his homepage.


Mark Fricker MA PhD
University Lecturer in Plant Science and Tutorial Fellow, Pembroke College
Department of Plant Sciences
University of Oxford

postal address:  South Building, Department of Plant Sciences, 
South Parks Road, 
Oxford, OX1 3RB

tel: 01865 275015
fax: 01865 275074