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Interactions between metabolism and plant development

​Plant metabolism is highly coordinated with development. However, an understanding of the whole picture of metabolism and its interactions with plant development is scarce. Our research focuses on the elucidation of the role of metabolic enzymes in higher plants (glycolysis, amino acid and terpenoid biosynthetic pathways). We are especially interested in unravelling the interactions between metabolism and development. For that purpose we are combining new genomic, metabolomic, bioinformatic and proteomic approaches.

One of our main research interests is the study of glycolytic enzymes. Glycolysis is a central metabolic pathway that is present, at least in part, in all living organisms . Its fundamental role is to generate energy and to produce precursors for anabolism. Additional non-glycolytic functions such as regulation of transcription or apoptosis have also been attributed to glycolytic enzymes in mammals and yeast. I n plants, glycolysis occurs in both the cytosol and plastids which complicates our global understanding of this pathway and its interactions with development. Besides , the postulated signalling functions of glycolytic enzymes remain unproven in plants.

We have recently revealed the role of plastidial glycolytic glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate- dehydrogenase (GAPCp). I n spite of their low gene expression level as compared to cytosolic glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate-dehydrogenases, GAPCps down-regulation leads to drastic changes in the sugar and amino acid balance of the plant and causes arrested root development and sterility. The arrested root development of gapcp mutants was attributed to a serine deficiency, concluding that t he major function of GAPCps in roots is to provide precursors for serine biosynthesis. Currently, the role of other glycolytic enzymes (metabolic and/or signalling functions) is under study.

A second effort in the lab focuses on obtaining, through genetic engineering plants with high added value, such as increased tolerance to drought and salinity, increased production of essential oils or plant derived dyes.




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