Design of novel chemical-molecular tools to enlarge and adapt the endoplasmic reticulum of crop and medicinal plants for superior production of bioactive metabolites

01 January 2020 → 31 December 2022
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Natural sciences
    • Regulation of metabolism
    • Biochemistry and metabolism not elsewhere classified
    • Cell growth and development
    • Intracellular compartments and transport
    • Plant biochemistry
medicinal plants
Project description

Plants synthesize thousands of metabolites, including bioactive specialized metabolites that serve plant survival and are employed in various human applications. This is particularly true for the South African flora, which is renowned for its biodiversity. Our current understanding of plant specialized metabolism and its organisation is still restricted, by which this rich resource of natural products is still largely untapped. Two aspects can be considered key. First, plants respond quickly to developmental and environmental signals that trigger reprogramming of cellular metabolism to boost fluxes through specific metabolic pathways. Second, these pathways are highly compartmentalized and typically spread over multiple subcellular compartments, among which the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). In this Bilateral Scientific Cooperation research project, we aim to design novel chemical-molecular tools that will allow accommodating plant cells for superior plant metabolite biosynthesis. More specifically we will launch a chemical-molecular screen to identify compounds that enlarge and adapt the plant ER to empower higher flux through specialized metabolic pathways. Ultimately, these tools will be combined with existing other molecular tools and applied to a selection of grapevine and medicinal plant lines from South-Africa. Together, this project will allow generating new fundamental knowledge and tools to generate plant lines with superior metabolite production capacity.