Graduate School Life Science Munich

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Dr. Iris Finkemeier

Sensing and retrograde signalling of mitochondrial metabolic states in plants

For optimal growth and development, plants require adequate amounts of light, water, mineral nutrients, carbon dioxide as well as an optimal temperature range. The negative impact of suboptimal environmental conditions on plant growth and crop-yield are well-documented and are becoming more and more important in the light of global climate change, world population growth and changing land use.

The impact of suboptimal conditions is mainly exerted at a cellular level. The plant cell is divided into several subcellular compartments including mitochondria, plastids and cytosol, and they all house enzymes of different metabolic pathways. Mitochondria and chloroplasts are the power-houses of the plant cell and essential for the production of cellular ATP, reducing power and carbon intermediates. The protein complement and activities of metabolic pathways must be dynamically regulated to allow the metabolic output of the both organelles to match the cellular energy demands in different environmental conditions. Our group is interested in investigating mechanisms that plants have evolved to coordinate and regulate photosynthesis and respiration in chloroplasts and mitochondria under adverse environmental conditions. We currently focus on two major research projects:

1) Sensing and retrograde signalling of mitochondrial metabolic states in plants.

2) The role of lysine acetylation in the regulation of photosynthesis and respiration.

Within these projects we mainly work with the plant model species Arabidopsis thaliana and Nicotiana tabacum, and we study growth conditions that induce oxidative stress in plants. For the experimental approaches we employ state of the art genetic and biochemical techniques including expression- and promoter analysis, the analysis of posttranscriptional modifications via LC-MS/MS, and the identification of novel metabolite-binding proteins and signal metabolites.

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