Delf Kah, co-first author of Durotropic growth of pollen tubes
Current Position: PhD student at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany
Education: M.Sc. in Physics, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany
Non-Scientific Interests: music, cooking, chess
Brief Bio: I am a PhD student at the biophysics group of Ben Fabry and study animal cell and tissue mechanics with cell stretchers, micro-indenters, micropillar-arrays, and magnetic tweezers. During the past two years, I collaborated with plant biologist Ronny Reimann from the research groups of Benedikt Kost (Cell Biology, Erlangen) and Petra Dietrich (Molecular Plant Physiology, Erlangen) to investigate mechanical guidance mechanisms during pollen tube growth. In particular, I developed a method for measuring the penetration forces of pollen tubes during their growth through soft and stiff matrices. We discovered that pollen tubes from plants with a solid transmission tract grow faster in stiffer environments and – when confronted with an interface between a soft and a stiff environment – prefer to grow on the stiffer side. This study was conducted in collaboration with Anja Geitmann (Plant Science, McGill, Montreal), who coined the term “durotropism” to describe this unusual behavior.