Elected: 1971
Discipline: Organismal and Environmental Biology
Professor Elizabeth Graham Cutter FRSE
Emeritus Professor Elizabeth Graham Cutter, who died of cancer aged 81, had an international reputation for her extraordinarily precise microsurgical approach to studies of the anatomy and development of lower and higher plants. She employed this approach to understand how various types of plant cells and organs originate, are modified, and function. For example, in one important paper, Lewis Feldman and Elizabeth described how an aquatic plant, Hydrocharis morsus-ranae (Frogbit) formed root hairs. In this differentiation process a certain type of cell in the root tip divides unequally to form larger and smaller daughter cells. The larger cell type differentiates to form diploid epidermal cells that eventually cover and protect the surface of the root, and the smaller cell type differentiates into root hairs. In the first part of this process the chromosomes and cytoplasm of the smaller cell undergo successive duplications without the nucleus or the cell dividing. This results in the production of a large, vacuolated, octoploid cell that then differentiates into a root hair.

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