Growth and development of elongated tip-growing plant cells 
TIPNET project HPRN-CT-2002-00265; Irene Lichtscheidl (2002-2005) 

TIPNET aims to offer expert training within a network of scientific groups whose expertise lies in complementary aspects of research in tip-growing plant cells. This mode of unidirectional growth produces long tubular cells and is characteristic of invasive cells such as root hairs, that serve as a contact between plant and soil to improve nutrient uptake, and pollen tubes, that are responsible for guiding the male germ unit in the process of fertilisation. Tip growth is therefore a fundamental biological process that has important agronomic applications - for the control of growth through nutrient uptake and the control of fertilisation through pollen tube guidance.
Tip-growth depends on the coordination of numerous molecular and cellular processes needed for the formation of a new cellular compartment.  Once initiated, tip-growth may appear as an  autonomous process, however the direction and rate of extension at the tip are modulated by a variety of internal factors and external signals, e.g. structural and biochemical features, cellular feed-back mechanisms, and environmental effects. Understanding  the complexities of the machinery is far from complete. The vast amount of information accumulated over the  last few decades is  fragmentary and scattered among the various disciplines that constitute cell biology. Therefore, input from scientists with an integral and multidisciplinary view, able to apply complementary techniques, is an absolute requirement for further insight into such a complex mechanism as tip-growth. These coordinated efforts from different disciplines and laboratories are also essential to gain insight into general cell biological problems, and they provide the desired synoptic environment for young scientists, whose training is the major objective of this proposal.
Scientific outcomes expected are an understanding of the structural, physiological and molecular mechanisms of tip growth in plant cells, to obtain GFP transformants and mutant plants and their proteins, and to characterize novel genes and proteins involved in tip-growth using advanced cell biological and genetic approaches.
Training content
TIPNET consists of a selection of ten research teams, all highly qualified in fields as diverse as physiology, cell biology and molecular genetics, who are committed to convey their knowledge to a new generation of researchers employing wide conceptual approaches. The complementary fields include (1) analysis of structure and motility, (2) protein biochemistry and ion dynamics in living cells, and (3) molecular genetics. Young researchers will be affiliated to a home laboratory and spend 2-3 collaborative research periods in the partner laboratories. In Training Workshops, they will learn the various methods applied by the partners, in the hands-on training on questions of tip-growing plant cells they will learn to apply cell and molecular biological and genetic techniques, and in meetings and conferences they will train to publish and to present their results.
The combination of this multidisciplinary approach promoted by TIPNET will allow the trainees to obtain a wholistic understanding of a complex biological mechanism and to pursue their work in any discipline ofcell biology after their training.