Research at the IPB

Research of the Institute focuses on four areas: (1) carbohydrate partitioning in higher plants, (2) engineering of biopolymer synthesis, (3) plant growth and (4) resistance of plants to abiotic stress.

  1. To understand and positively influence carbohydrate partitioning in plant organs we use reverse genetic approaches to manipulate flux in specific pathways, and study the effects using high-throughput profiling of metabolites, proteins and transcripts. The majority of our projects are carried out in sugarcane to enhance sucrose accumulation however, novel approaches are first performed in Arabidopsis. In addition, we are trying to elucidate whether the mechanisms that regulate carbohydrate partitioning in other tissues also apply to fruits. This work is done using strawberry, tomato and grapevine.

  2. To enable the production of novel biopolymers with specialized functionalities we have developed a range of screening systems that allow for the easy identification of novel genes coding for biopolymer synthetic or modifying enzymes. After characterization the genes are expressed in suitable hosts, such as bacteria, yeasts or higher plants. The libraries we are screening are derived from organisms known to accumulate interesting biopolymers, or are metagenomic libraries from specific ecological niches which we think represent environments where accumulation of such functional polymers would give a selective advantage.

  3. To understand and enhance plant growth, we apply a range of chemicals that positively stimulate plant growth, and study the molecular events that are triggered by these substances. This is done using metabolomic, proteomic and transcriptomic analysis. After identification of responsive genes we perform a functional analysis using reverse genetic or over-expression approaches. Model plants that are employed are Arabidopsis and Lotus, but a range of crops are studied also.

  4. Shaun section.