Phenylpropanoids are a specific class of plant secondary metabolites that play pivotal roles in plant
growth, development and adaptation to the environment. Many also have health-promoting and
medicinal properties. Fundamental knowledge about their biosynthesis could e.g. help increase
stress resistance and improve the nutritional value of plants. Despite years of research, our
knowledge concerning the biosynthesis of phenylpropanoids and related metabolites is still limited.
In this project, we aim to identify the substrates and products of a selection of previously
uncharacterized O-methyltransferases (OMTs) in Arabidopsis, that are highly likely involved in the
biosynthesis of phenylpropanoids or related compounds. Initially, we carefully selected seven
candidate genes from a list of phenylpropanoid OMT (i.e. CCoAOMT, COMT) homologs in
Arabidopsis based on literature, phylogeny, co-expression analysis and expression profile. Phenolic
profiling of mutants in each of the candidate genes, along with compound purification and analysis
by NMR, should elucidate the substrate(s) (which will accumulate) and product(s) (which abundance
will be reduced). Subsequently, we will further validate the enzymatic function using enzymatic
assays. In this way, we hope to identify new enzymes along with their phenylpropanoid substrates
and products. Further follow-up of the research is dependent of the function of the newly
characterized gene and its possible value for society.