Ram Dixit

Chair of Biology
Professor of Biology
PhD, Cornell University
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    • Washington University
    • CB 1137
    • One Brookings Drive
    • St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
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    Professor Dixit's research is motivated by the spectacular diversity of cell shapes in nature, which underlies the viability and adaptability of organisms.

    The long-term goal of Dixit's research is to understand the molecular machinery for plant cell wall construction. He teaches courses in cell biology, imaging, and microscopy.

    The Dixit lab seeks to understand the mechanisms underlying plant cell morphogenesis. The work focuses on the cortical microtubule cytoskeleton, which defines plant cell shape by serving as a scaffold for cell wall assembly.

    The lab's mission is to understand:

    1. how cells create, maintain and remodel cortical microtubule arrays to dynamically control plant growth and development; and
    2.  how the cortical microtubule array orchestrates directional deposition of cell wall material.

    The Dixit Lab addresses these questions in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana using a combination of molecular genetics, high-resolution live-cell imaging, and computer simula­tion studies. In addition, they are developing new techniques for reconstituting the dynamics and interactions of cortical micro­tubules in vitro to analyze the functions of key molecules under controlled conditions and at the single molecule level. 

    recent courses

    Cellular Transformations

    Cellular Transformations is a course developed for students interested in using emerging technologies and cross-disciplinary approaches in design production and implementation. This course allows each student to develop abstract thinking and learn modern design and fabrication processes including digital media and 3D technologies. In this course, students learn the basic principles underlying biological architecture, with a particular emphasis on structures and processes responsible for complex architectures within cells. Students then use biological design principles as inspiration for their individual projects. Through digital modeling and scanning of biological structures, each student will develop a transformation process that analyzes the performative aspects of a new emerging design. These designs will be modeled through CADCAM (laser cutting) and Rapid Prototyping (3D Printing) for physical outputs.

      Seminar in Plant and Microbial Bioscience

      This course emphasizing presentation skill and critical analysis counts towards the PMB Graduate Program's journal club course requirement. Students will be responsible for dividing and presenting 30 current research publications selected by the course masters. In addition to assembling brief PowerPoint presentations providing background and significance for their assigned articles, students are expected to provide classmates with a 1 page primer and short list of relevant references

        Cell Biology

        Eukaryotic cell structure and function viewed from the perspective of modern cell biology. Lectures cover such topics as membrane transport, endocytosis and secretion, intracellular trafficking, hormones and signal transduction, extracellular matrix and tissue formation, cytoskeleton and motility, cell cycle, apoptosis, and the cellular basis of disease.

          Selected Publications

          Zhu C, Ganguly A, Baskin TI, McClosky DD, Anderson CT, Foster C, Meunier KA, Okamoto R, Berg H and Dixit R (2015). The FRA1 kinesin contributes to cortical microtubule-mediated trafficking of cell wall components. Plant Physiology, 167: 780-792.

          Zhang Q, Fishel EA, Bertroche T and Dixit R (2013). Microtubule severing at crossover sites by katanin generates ordered cortical microtubule arrays in Arabidopsis. Current Biology, 23: 2191-2195.

          Ganguly A and Dixit R (2013). Mechanisms for regulation of plant kinesins. Current Opinion in Plant Biology, 16: 704-709.

          Dixit R (2013). Plant cytoskeleton: DELLA connects gibberellins to microtubules. Current Biology, 23: R479-R481.

          Fishel EA and Dixit R (2013). Role of nucleation in cortical microtubule array organization: variations on a theme. Plant Journal, 75: 270-277.

          Tulin A, McClerklin S, Huang Y and Dixit R (2012). Single-molecule analysis of the microtubule crosslinking protein MAP65-1 reveals a molecular mechanism for contact-angle-dependent microtubule bundling. Biophysical Journal, 102: 802-809.

          Zhu C and Dixit R (2012). Functions of the Arabidopsis kinesin superfamily of microtubule-based motor proteins. Protoplasma, 249:887-899.

          Zhu C and Dixit R (2011). Single molecule analysis of the Arabidopsis FRA1 kinesin shows that it is a functional motor protein with unusually high processivity. Molecular Plant, 4: 879-885.

          Sun F, Zhu C, Dixit R and Cavalli V (2011). Sunday Driver /JIP3 binds kinesin heavy chain directly and enhances its motility. EMBO Journal, 30:3416-3429.

          Eren EC, Dixit R and Gautam N (2010) A three-dimensional computer simulation model reveals the mechanisms for self-organization of plant cortical microtubules into oblique arrays. Molecular Biology of the Cell, 21: 2674-2684.

          Cellular Transformations: Between Architecture And Biology

          Cellular Transformations: Between Architecture And Biology

          “Cellular Transformations” presents a course developed for students who are interested in emerging technologies and cross-disciplinary approaches in design strategies. Relying on how advances in engineering and biology are influencing design production and implementation, professors Ram Dixit and Sung Ho Kim at Washington University in St. Louis explore the premise that structure (or form) and function are inexorably linked in both the natural and artificial worlds. By leading a course of experimentation and research that is embedded in technical and design issues which are transferable to real-world applications, they aim to change our expectations of the built environment.