Recent Posts

Conversion of Escherichia coli to generate all biomass carbon from CO2 (Cell)

Plants are photosynthetic autotrophs, meaning they use light energy to feed themselves, with carbon dioxide as a carbon source. Heterotrophs like E. coli require organic carbon. Here, Gleizer et al. have rewired the metabolism of E. coli to make it into a (non-photosynthetic) autotroph, meaning it can…

Perspective: Revolutionizing agriculture with synthetic biology (Nature Plants)

In a new Perspective by Wurtzel et al., the authors lay out SynBio’s tremendous potential to transform agriculture. Consider how we might leverage the “vast design space that plants have not occupied.” As an example, plants employ two pathways to fix carbon, and prokaryotes another six, but scientists…

Attractive flower smell turned into defense barrier

Boachon et al. explore metabolic processes associated with floral defense. Plant Cell https://doi.org/10.1105/tpc.19.00320 By Benoît Boachon, University of Lyon, UJM-Saint-Etienne, CNRS, BVpam FRE 3727, Saint-Etienne, France. Danièle Werck-Reichhart, Institute of Plant Molecular Biology of…

Auronidins are a previously unreported class of flavonoid pigments that challenge anthocyanin biosynthesis evolved in plants (OA) (PNAS)

Plants produce pigments as a protective strategy against biotic and abiotic stress. In angiosperms, anthocyanins are the main flavonoids that play a role in this function. As the early-diverging land plant, Marchantia polymorpha also produces red pigments in response to environmental conditions, it was…

The “Ins and Outs” of ER–Chloroplast Lipid Trafficking

Karki et al. revisit the long-standing question of how and where lipid trafficking occurs during galactolipid synthesis. They report evidence for metabolically distinct pools of phosphatidylcholine, suggesting an underlying spatial organization in the ER–chloroplast metabolic interactions. Plant Cell…

Two bifunctional inositol pyrophosphate kinases/phosphatases control plant phosphate homeostasis (eLIFE)

Phosphorus (P) is an essential macronutrient for plant growth and development. P is predominantly absorbed by plants in its inorganic form, phosphate (Pi). Because Pi homeostasis is critical for balanced growth and development, plants like many other eukaryotic organisms have developed a complex system…

Predicting metabolism during growth by osmotic cell expansion (bioRxiv)

Growth is driven by cell expansion, which is driven by both synthesis of metabolites and osmotically-driven expansion. This latter contribution is typically overlooked in metabolic flux analysis. To remedy this, Shameer et al. have developed a model, GrOE-FBA (Growth by Osmotic Expansion- Flux Balance…

Review: The evolution of betalain biosynthesis in Caryophyllales (New Phytol)

In the flowering plant order Caryophyllales (which includes beets), betalains substitute for anthocyanins, which are the most common form of pigmentation across the land plant phylogeny. Also found in the Basidiomycota fungal lineage, betalains are tyrosine-derived pigments that comprise of two groups…

Plant Direct Q&A with Joshua Windhalm

What does your lab work on? We combine functional genomics with synthetic biology approaches to study the metabolism of redox-active plant natural products that can harnessed for applications relevant to agriculture and human health.  We are particularly interested in specialized quinones like…