Plasmodesmata were first observed by Austrian botanist Eduard Tangl in 1880. He devoted himself to studying the anatomy and cytology of plants and his greatest discovery, of course, was the observation and first characterization of plasmodesmata (Tangl 1880, 1884 and 1885). 

Despite not having access to their ultrastructure, he observed thin striations (see front page engraving) between cotyledon cells of Strychnos nuxvomica and in the endosperm of seeds and described them as being conductive ducts. Already at the time, he was evoking the idea that these strands “unite them [the cells] to an entity of higher order”, in other words formulating the first definition of a symplastic domain. It is only in 1901 that Strasburger finally names these canals “plasmodesmata”. His discovery led to a radical change in our conception of the plant entity and brought in new concepts such as the symplasm (Munch 1930) and transmembrane fluxes between cells, which are now being tackled with great interest by numerous research teams around the globe. 

Because of their size, plasmodesmata ultrastructure was not accessible until the advent of electron microscopy and they were long thought to be simple holes connecting plant cells one-another with no specific regulation. It is only with the advent of electron microscopy and chemical fixation that botanists started to gain interest in this structure again. And even with these methods allowing the observation of structures down to several nanometers in size, there are still debates on the nature of the canal, its constituents and physiology (Lopez-Saez J. 1965, Robards A. 1970, Ding et al. 1992, Tilney et al. 1991, Overall and Gunning 1982, Schulz et al. 1995). 

Nowadays, with the advent of modern cryopreservation and three-dimensional electron tomography methods, great improvements are to be done in the understanding of the ultrastructure and physiology of these mysterious canals. More particularly by understanding the link between the membranous rearrangements taking place in these pores and the molecular transit regulation. 

My work has led us to view plasmodesmata as specialised Membrane Contact Sites (MCS). Hence, by analogy with MCS found in mammals, yeast and plants, this work embraces an original angle on the speculation of the composition and role of the desmotubule-plasma-membrane tethering complex. 

The work produced during my thesis allowed me to contribute to the publication of one review and two articles, which will constitute the introduction and two main sub-sections of the results chapter, respectively. The introductory review has been published in 2016 in Annual Review of Plant Biology. The first one is still under reviewing at Nature Plant and the other has been published in The Plant Cell journal in April 2015. 

My thesis can be found on Google drive, Research Gate, and