Simon Strobbe, first author of Metabolic engineering provides insight into the regulation of thiamin biosynthesis in plants
Current Position: Postdoctoral researcher at Laboratory of Functional Plant Biology, Department of Biology, Ghent University
Education: PhD in Biology Ghent University; MSc. Biochemistry and Biotechnology, Ghent University
Non-scientific Interests: Gardening, hiking, running, swimming, cooking (and eating)
I started studying Biochemistry and Biotechnology at Ghent University, because I believe biotechnology can have a great beneficial impact on our society when adequately implemented in the agricultural system. During my studies I got intrigued by biofortification, which involves enhancing the micronutrient content of crops. After receiving my master degree in 2014, I joined the team of Prof. Dominique Van Der Straeten to investigate the possibility for thiamin (vitamin B1) and folate (vitamin B9) biofortification, as part of my PhD research. It quickly became evident that further insight into the fundamentals of plant vitamin metabolism is a necessity for successful biofortification. By evaluating different metabolic engineering strategies, aimed at enhancing thiamin content in Arabidopsis, we were able to acquire a better understanding of different metabolic factors impeding further thiamin accumulation. Our research revealed that further enhancement of thiamin content requires metabolic engineering beyond stimulation of its biosynthesis. I think it is interesting and rewarding to study a specific metabolite in its physiological context as a whole and I am eager to keep on expanding our current understanding of this network.