Biological complexity lab

Welcome to the web site for the laboratory of Prof. George Bassel at The University of Birmingham.

The lab seeks to understand complexity in biological systems, and how this shapes and constrains life. This is being studied primarily across two scales:

1) Molecular complexity – how interactions between molecular components give rise to cellular behaviours.

2) Cellular complexity – how interactions between cells influence multicellular organ function.

We are using plants as a model system to address these questions. The cells within plant organs are fixed together such that there is no cell migration, as in animal systems. Information moves through these immobilized cellular networks through shared cell walls, including through specialized gaps linking adjacent cells called plasmodesmata. These cellular networks can be captured in 3D at high resolution, and analyzed.

Plants provide a unique opportunity to understand the intersection between genetic and cellular networks, how they shape and constrain one another, and how they evolve over developmental and evolutionary time.

Plants also play a key role as both food and energy for humans. Uncovering mechanisms of their growth and development can be used to enhance crop production and food security across this period of rapid climate change.