Dr. Dobritsa's laboratory studies formation of complex extracellular structures using development of exine, the outer cell wall of plant pollen grains, as a model. They are trying to learn how sporopollenin is synthesized, exine is developed, exine patterns are laid out, and eventually would like to understand how the forms of these complex structures determine their functions. To answer these questions, they utilize genetics, molecular biology, confocal and electron microscopy, and biochemistry. They have a large collection of Arabidopsis exine mutants that help us to identify and study molecular players and events involved in sporopollenin biosynthesis and exine formation. In the future, these data from a model plant will be used as a foundation for evo-devo studies regarding the generation of the enormous variety of exine patterns observed in nature.