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In any tree, crude sap is driven through xylem microtubes. The crude sap is submitted to intermolecular forces shaping it into very thin liquid films in embolized xylem microtubes. The concept of disjoining pressure must be taken into account and a strong negative pressure can be present in liquid-water bulks. The disjoining pressure gradient induced by the flux of transpiration initiates crude sap motion. Applications enable to understand why the xylem microtubes can be refilled and why the ascent of sap is possible even for the tallest trees avoiding the problems due to cavitation.
Un tiers de la thèse couvre la conception et le montage d'une expérience de stimulation tactile chez l'humain. En utilisant la microneurographie, nous avons pu enregistrer la réponse neuronale des mécanorécepteurs lorsqu'ils sont stimulés de façon précise et contrôlable. Notre dispositif permet le contrôle de la position, l¿orientation, la vitesse et de la force d'appui de la stimulation via une texture micro-usinée par nos soins. Ainsi les conditions sont réunies pour étudier de façon systématique la transduction de l'information tactile, qui se trouve d¿abord dans la surface à sonder puis passe dans le codage par les neurones du système nerveux. La seconde partie concerne le montage d'un microscope par nappe laser appliqué à l'enregistrement de l'activité neuronale d¿une larve de poisson-zèbre. Le but est de se doter d'un outil permettant d'observer la totalité de la chaîne de transmission de l'information mécano-sensorielle : du récepteur au cerveau. Les poissons sont génétiquement modifiés pour exprimer le rapporteur calcique GCaMP3 dans chacun de leurs neurones. Le microscope à nappe laser, où l'éclairement du spécimen se fait par le côté avec un faisceau laser scanné et l'observation se fait par le dessus selon un axe perpendiculaire au plan d'éclairement, permet d'augmenter à la fois la fréquence de prise d'images et la taille du champ enregistré par rapport aux techniques usuelles (microscope confocal ou 2-photons). Ces gains sont mis à profit pour étudier les corrélations entre les signaux de neurones distribués dans l'ensemble du cerveau de la larve du poisson-zèbre, et mettre directement à jour les sous-réseaux à l'œuvre au cours de l'activité cérébrale.
Traditionally, astrocytes have been considered to couple via gap-junctions into a syncytium with only rudimentary spatial organization. However, this view is challenged by growing experimental evidence that astrocytes organise as a proper gap-junction mediated network with more complex region-dependent properties. On the other hand, the propagation range of intercellular calcium waves (ICW) within astrocyte populations is as well highly variable, depending on the brain region considered. This suggests that the variability of the topology of gap-junction couplings could play a role in the variability of the ICW propagation range. Since this hypothesis is very difficult to investigate with current experimental approaches, we explore it here using a biophysically realistic model of three-dimensional astrocyte networks in which we varied the topology of the astrocyte network, while keeping intracellular properties and spatial cell distribution and density constant. Computer simulations of the model suggest that changing the topology of the network is indeed sufficient to reproduce the distinct ranges of ICW propagation reported experimentally. Unexpectedly, our simulations also predict that sparse connectivity and restriction of gap-junction couplings to short distances should favor propagation while long-distance or dense connectivity should impair it. Altogether, our results provide support to recent experimental findings that point towards a significant functional role of the organization of gap-junction couplings into proper astroglial networks. Dynamic control of this topology by neurons and signaling molecules could thus constitute a new type of regulation of neuron-glia and glia-glia interactions.
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