Alisdair Fernie, Max Planck Golm, Germany

Date: 8th March 2017

Time: 13:15

Title: Towards functional metabolomics

Location: Seminar room 2012, Biocentre 2, Viikinkaari 5

Host: Jaakko Kangasjärvi

Abstract: Two grand challenges face metabolomics that which is most frequently addressed is the poor coverage currently a couple of percent of the plant kingdoms metabolome. Less studied is what all these metabolites are good for. I will provide examples from our work on tomato and Arabidopsis. The former is based on fully elucidating the pathways of glycoalkaloids and phenylpropanoids the latter which will form the major focus went beyond this and characterized in vivo bioactivity of a new class of flavanols. Incidence of natural light stress renders it important to enhance our understanding of the mechanisms by which plants protect themselves from harmful effects of UV-B irradiation, as this is critical for fitness of land plant species. Here we describe natural variation of a class of phenylacylated-flavonols (saiginols), which accumulate to high levels in floral tissues of Arabidopsis. They were identified in a subset of accessions, especially those deriving from latitudes between 16° and 43° North. Investigation of introgression line populations using metabolic and transcript profiling, combined with genomic sequence analysis, allowed the identification of flavonol-phenylacyltransferase 2 (FPT2) that is responsible for the production of saiginols and conferring greater UV light tolerance in planta. Furthermore, analysis of polymorphism within the FPT duplicated region provides an evolutionary framework of the natural history of this locus in the Brassicaceae.

The Fernie group focuses on identifying factors involved in metabolic regulation of primary and intermediary metabolism within both photosynthetic and heterotrophic tissues. Particular focus is given to the role of the tricarboxylic acid cycle and its participation within various biological processes. We furthermore harness wide genetic diversity in order to understand the genetics of metabolite accumulation and are currently developing highly sensitive analytical tools to determine metabolic fluxes. Various species of tomato, maize and Arabidopsis thaliana are the primary model systems used.

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